Benefits of Community Acupuncture
Simone Ressner, L.Ac., 200RYT, Dipl. O.M.
There are a couple questions in regards to this topic that usually surface to inquiring minds such as “what is community acupuncture?” Or “what’s the difference between community acupuncture and private acupuncture?” My intention is to answer these two main questions so people can make an informed and empowered decision for their healthcare needs. This article will also highlight the global implications of this affordable holistic medical delivery system.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has over 2,000 years of proven efficacy in Asia. It is an all natural medicine which regards diseases as patterns correlating to how the mind, body, and spirit are relating as a whole. Acupuncture is one part of this medicine for which hair-thin, sterile, disposable needles are inserted into mapped “acupoints” to stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities. As a community acupuncturist, my personal mission is to operate a system where this modality of healing is as accessible to as many people as possible. I define “community acupuncture” as acupuncture done in a group setting to lower out-of-pocket cost for the individual patient. Many insurance companies do not reimburse or cover holistic therapies such as acupuncture or they may cover a limited number of treatments per year. For an acute issue, a minimum of 4-6 treatments is usually needed to be effective. For chronic issues, it is usually more. With this model of acupuncture, those with difficult socioeconomic situations have access and those who require treatment regularly for their chronic conditions, regardless of insurance, have options.
Private acupuncture sessions can cost anywhere from $50- $250 per session. These are great offerings that allow for more patient interfacing, other styles of acupuncture that require constant attention, and are done in a private room. However, not all acupuncturists take insurance and with the above mentioned dosage, these sessions should occur at least a week apart to be effective. This leaves one paying up to $1500 for a dose of recommended treatment within a month and few people follow through with the regimen. Most people cannot afford this or do not budget for this cost. “According to the census in 2014, the median household income was $53,657 pre-tax in 2014… following two consecutive years of annual declines in median household income.” (www.census.gov) Therefore people with difficult socioeconomic situations often do not have access to receive this natural and effective form of healthcare. According to an NIH study, this group of people may need more options for healthcare the most. This study found that “Those with the lowest income and who were least educated were consistently least healthy, but for most indicators, even groups with intermediate income and education levels were less healthy than the wealthiest and most educated. Gradient patterns were seen often among non-Hispanic Blacks and Whites but less consistently among Hispanics.” (www.ncbi.nih.gov)
At Source Empowered Wellness (a community acupuncture and herbal medicine center), we take comfort and quality of care to the next level for only $30 a treatment. Our compassionate and experienced practitioners treat in a calming group setting and can target any kind of condition private acupuncture can such as pain, autoimmune disorders, gastrointestinal and digestive disorders, fertility, addiction, emotional issues and more. In addition, we may use a number of other axillary modalities to enhance the treatment. Like private acupuncturists, we can offer moxibustion, cupping, auricular acupuncture, e-stimulation, infrared lamps, and herbal medicine. Expect us to take time to get to know you during the initial intake and use our professional diagnostic tools of pulse, tongue, channel palpation to decide how to treat. We will always take time to discuss anything new, to see how a person is progressing, and to find out how they feel about the treatments.
Besides being a great way to spend time with family and friends, the benefits of healing in a group setting are enormous for those with emotional trauma. One acupuncture protocol that advocates for acupuncture in a group setting is NADA, or the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association. NADA was founded in 1985 by a group led by Dr. Smith with the intention to treat drug addiction. Today it is incorporated for detoxification, weight loss, PTSD, among other conditions. The NADA protocol has evolved over time and has such broad-reaching evidence of success that even the US military utilizes the same protocol. All acupuncture schools introduce this protocol. Today, NADA consists of the insertion of small, stainless-steel, disposable acupuncture needles into five points on the outer surface of a person’s ear. The five points are:
(1) Sympathetic Point calms the nervous system possibly by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system
(2) Shen Men or “spirit gate,” which reduces anxiety and nervousness
(3) Kidney Point, calms fears and heals internal organs
(4) Liver Point for detoxification, blood purification, and to quell aggression
(5) Lung Point promotes moisture and oxygen circulation in the body and also assists clients with releasing grief
In a typical session, both ears of the patient are needled at the same time, usually for between 30 and 45 minutes. The group setting is used with this protocol to help build support among those being treated, and break down feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety. Veteran clinics often use this treatment for those soldiers who have PTSD and find great, lasting results. Acupuncturists are easily trained for NADA and it has created a standard for helping the global community. One such organization is Acupuncturists without Borders. Acupuncturists underwent NADA trainings in Kenya to aid the refugees after the 2007 post-election violence, which left hundreds of thousands of persons displaced and traumatized. Treating in a group setting minimized overhead costs for this volunteer group, which paves the way for more kinds of offerings globally. (www.sciencedirect.com)
A recent study done in Portland concluded that despite their economic situation or ethnoracial background, people are choosing community acupuncture for convenience and coming more often. Most community clinics welcome walk-in appointments, which may also account for the increased frequency of treatment. In this study, “where patients are more homogeneous racially, had higher educational attainment, lower household income, and were more likely to receive 10 or more treatments in the past 12 months (odds ratio=5.39, 95% confidence interval=3.54, 8.22), compared to a nationally representative sample of U.S. acupuncture users. Self-reported health status and medical reasons for seeking acupuncture treatment were similar in both groups. Back pain (21%), joint pain (17%), and depression (13%) were the most common conditions for seeking treatment at community acupuncture clinics.” (www.ncbi.nih.gov)
Overall, community acupuncture gives people globally more financial access to the number of treatments necessary to effectively resolve their issue and is an effective way of treating people holistically. It is my hope that people become more aware of this service and I am available for any questions that arise.