Shortly after I (Andres) graduated from the Tai Sophia institute (now known as the Maryland University of Integrative health), an acupuncture school in MD, in 2007, I co-founded a community acupuncture clinic in Silver Spring MD. It was called Crossings Community Acupuncture Clinic. One of the most gratifying aspects of working at this clinic was the diversity of people who came in. There were taxi drivers, students, people from all walks of life. There was a much more diverse selection than is commonly found in private acupuncture clinics because the community model allows for a reduced cost of treatment that makes this modality accessible to many more people.
It was rewarding to offer acupuncture to those that would not normally have access to this medicine. We are now very happy to again be able to provide Community Acupuncture, this time in Winston Salem NC at 4 Branches. The community acupuncture we offer will integrate medical qi gong, as well as offer the option of herbal consults and formulas to enhance effectiveness and allow each person to experience the full range of therapies Chinese medicine has to offer.
The concept of Community Acupuncture as it is practiced in the United States was born in Portland Oregon in 2002. This model is based on the community style treatments commonly used in Asia. The primary considerations in establishing a community acupuncture model in the US were making acupuncture affordable and accessible to community members, while also allowing the acupuncturist to make a sustainable living. In 2011 my wife Michele Collins Vergara and I went to China to study herbs and acupuncture at a Traditional Chinese Medicine teaching hospital in Chengdu China.
During our studies in China, we found that Chinese medicine is a communal process. This was true in the acupuncture clinic, as well as the herbal clinics. People meet with doctors in small spaces that are filled with other patients who are either waiting to receive or are in the process of receiving treatment. People also received acupuncture treatments as many as three or four times a week. This is a very different experience than what we are typically used to in the US, in which people receive acupuncture and herbal formulas in a private and individualized consultation. Because of the reduced cost of community acupuncture, it allows people to more easily experience treatments as frequently as they do in China.
Another modality that has historically been offered in groups in China is medical qi gong. Medical qi gong is a form of energy medicine that uses the principles of Chinese medicine in a therapeutic context. For more information about medical qi gong, click here. It can be used both in-person or at a distance to effect the flow of qi in order to improve health and vitality. Because medical qi gong uses the same principles as other Chinese medicine modalities such as acupuncture, it can easily be integrated either in a community acupuncture or private acupuncture clinic setting. From the1970’s until early in the 21st century, medical qi gong had been offered in many hospitals and clinics in China. A famous medical qi gong hospital located near Beijing, Huanxia Zhineng Qigong and Training Center, called The Center was known for being China’s largest medicine-less hospital. Unfortunately it was closed for political reasons in 2001.
The benefits of community acupuncture extend beyond simply providing a lower cost acupuncture treatment. There are also important benefits to experiencing acupuncture in a group setting. Treatment provided in this communal atmosphere creates a group field. The insertion of small needles introduces a level of coherence and radiance to an individual’s wei qi field, or the external protective energy field that surrounds the body. Each individual’s coherence and radiance, in turn, impacts the field of the group and helps it to become more harmonious and peaceful. This feeling of harmony and peace, magnifies the effects and benefits for all involved in the treatment. This could be compared to the benefits of group prayer or meditation. A synergy is created that exceeds the simple sum of its parts.
How Community Acupuncture Works
Chinese medicine is a comprehensive and profound medicine that has evolved over the course of nearly 2000 years. Through the course of this long history, many distinct schools of thought and treatment techniques have been developed that can be applied easily and effectively in a communal setting. There are many styles suited to a community acupuncture center that utilize only distal points (points on the hands, feet, ears, arms and legs) that allow individuals to avoid any disrobing.
Usually there is a short intake that includes filling out basic paperwork such as an informed consent form. This short intake will allow for a more focused treatment. For ease of accessibility and for space reasons community acupuncture is often performed in reclining chairs, such as zero gravity chairs. These reclining chairs are spread throughout the treatment space to maximize comfort. Soothing music is played in order to deepen the relaxation response and experience for each individual. Treatments and appointment start times are often separated by 15 minutes or so in order to allow for some individual attention for each client.
The community acupuncture model can also help to maximize the effectiveness of acupuncture. In China it is typical for an individual to receive acupuncture several times a week. Frequent treatments of multiple times a week help address the underlying imbalances of any given symptom or symptoms so that faster healing can occur. The reduced fees for community acupuncture allow people to maximize the benefits by receiving treatments three or even four times a week, much the same as they do in China.
There are other notable benefits to community acupuncture
For those who have never received acupuncture before and are interested in its benefits and effects, it offers an cost effective and easy way to experience it first hand. There is a certain comfort and ease derived from experiencing acupuncture among others who are going through a similar experience. Because of the communal nature, people bring friends of family to receive treatments at the same time. Research is establishing many physical and emotional benefits to acupuncture, such as alleviating many different kinds of chronic and acute pain, depression, anxiety, digestive issues, and insomnia, to name a few. Community acupuncture provides an important resource that allows a larger number of people to experience these benefits for themselves. See this blog post for a summary of recent research documenting the effectiveness of acupuncture and herbal medicine for a variety of conditions.
Community Acupuncture Hours and Cost
March 23- March 31, 2015 – 10am – 1pm. Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Starting April 1st, 10am-1pm Wednesday and Friday and 5pm-7pm Monday and Wednesday
Cost: $30/person/visit. One time $15 paperwork fee at first visit (waived if you are already a client at 4 Branches). Call 336-508-1121 to make an appointment or email firstname.lastname@example.org.