Occupy Healthcare: The Revolution is Here & it’s Called Community Acupuncture. ~ Nicole Maniez

Via elephant journal
on Nov 16, 2011
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Photo: Marnie Joyce

As an acupuncturist, there is a freedom in this model, a strong sense of support and community, and a knowledge that we are helping people across economic and class barriers.

The other day I was invited to give an acupuncture presentation to a group of medical doctors. As an acupuncturist, this is exciting. The possibility of collaboration begins to sprout and I get to share the gentle medicine I love with a group of professionals who are open to learning about various ways of approaching health concerns.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine are effective for so many health issues, from headaches and digestive concerns to anxiety and fertility. This modality of healing almost never has side effects, doesn’t pollute the earth or add pharmaceuticals to our drinking water, costs less, is not invasive, doesn’t create addictions and is a great first line of treatment for many issues.

After the presentation, one of the MD’s started talking about our very broken healthcare system. He said his practice used to be an out-of-pocket system. Costs were low. When he started accepting health insurance, the cost for a simple ear exam skyrocketed. He used the word criminal many times.

If I think about the numerous stories patients have shared with me, many ugly words beyond criminal come up. People pay unbelievable amounts of money to have their families insured. When they actually need the insurance, say their spouse is diagnosed with cancer, they need to fight the insurance company for payment. It’s hard to fight any company.

Think about the last time you tried to get an extra charge taken off your phone bill. Now add illness, fear, mental health issues, and heartache to the picture and let’s see how many individuals win.


F*ing criminal–kind of like how many feel about huge bonuses within companies that received bailouts. Maybe worse. People’s lives are literally on the line.

We have a broken system. I don’t think anyone can argue this. But how do we change such a deeply ingrained system that is tied to health, hospitals, business, and big money? We are lucky to be within the times of Occupy. We have brilliant minds working towards change and people are empowered by our ability to physically occupy spaces. The physical occupation allows our minds and awareness to stay engaged with the need for change. Occupy is fertilizer for change on multiple levels.

How does Community Acupuncture (CA) come into this picture? The movement of CA began because licensed acupuncturists realized they could not afford the $70-100 treatments they were offering. Most community acupuncture clinics use a sliding fee scale of $15-$40 per treatment with no income verification required or requested. This means that within certain parameters, patients choose what they pay. Many patients who pay at the low end find creative, non-financial ways to support their community clinic by volunteering through outreach, marketing, publicity, or answering phones–enhancing their self-esteem as community activists rather than passive recipients of charity.

CA clinics treat multiple people in a group setting, allowing for a sustainable business with low costs to patients. CA works to integrate acupuncture into American healthcare by means of a grassroots movement rather than seeking to become accepted by the medical establishment or be paid for by insurance companies. There is no middleman. CA is acupuncturists running clinics with low overhead, offering effective healthcare that many people can actually afford.

As an acupuncturist, there is a freedom in this model, a strong sense of support and community, and a knowledge that we are helping people across economic and class barriers. The CA community, acupuncturists and patients, are generous, honest, and quite sure they are changing the world for the better.

Want to learn more about CA and find a clinic in your area? Check out http://www.communityacupuncturenetwork.org.


Nicole Maniez is an acupuncturist, herbalist, yoga teacher and childbirth educator in the Boston area.  She is lucky to get to combine multiple loves into one sweet career, doing what she loves and helping people move closer to health and wholeness.  She is also a momma, an art maker, and an out-of-tune music maker.  Hoping that she will never lose the ability to laugh at her follies (and yours), she cultivates her curiosity in an attempt to keep life entertaining.  She loves mail.  Send her something inspiring – www.nicolemaniez.com.


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14 Responses to “Occupy Healthcare: The Revolution is Here & it’s Called Community Acupuncture. ~ Nicole Maniez”

  1. GrG says:

    nice picture of acupuncture for back pain, except that is exactly what you wont be getting in CA clinic. tried CA for sciatica and got some needles in wrist. after 3 visits no improvement. very cheap but I got what I paid for. another acupuncturist stuck some needles right in my ass and now I'm all better.

  2. kiappentice says:

    What you received in your wrist GrG is a system of acupuncture called balance method. Its practiced by many private room practitioners, including some of the most well known acupuncturists in the world, as well as many community acupuncturists. Its handy because no one needs to undress. Sorry it didn't work for you but to use your experience to attempt discredit community acupuncture in general is misleading. That style works for countess people every day.

  3. Capri says:

    glad to see some stuff about healthcare/acupuncture on elephant! 🙂

  4. Reality James says:

    GrG: You didn't get better because nothing happened, as you noted. But you also did not get better because someone stuck needles in your butt. It's a placebo, and there is no way that acupuncture or any other alt-med bit of nonsense is doing any good occupying. These unproven and repeatedly disproven scams are merely taking money for nothing. They are the one percent.

  5. Great post, thank you! If you liked this article, please check out the 35 minute documentary about community acupuncture here: http://blip.tv/community-acupuncture-network/comm

  6. Capri says:

    why are you so frustrated by it?

  7. Reality James says:

    I'm not a fan of people taking money for services that offer nothing more than placebo. It seems quite disingenuous, and it is not health care. Why do you think it is ok for those who push Big Placebo to do so?

  8. occupunker says:

    @Reality James:
    I've perfected a needling technique for big dumbass know-it-alls like yourself.

  9. Thanks for all your comments folks! Glad to get a discussion going, and very glad to share the highly effective modality of acupuncture with so many people on elephant!

  10. This is a great video. Check it out! And thanks to Lisa and her team for making it!

  11. drbinder says:

    Great Work, Nicole. Looking forward to more.

    Just Posted to Elephant Wellness on Facebook and twitter

  12. […] or not acupuncture really works. Well, I’m here to answer that question with a resounding yes! It really does […]