On Reopening During The Pandemic

After being closed for almost three months, I decided to reopen on a limited schedule. We are still in a pandemic and the problem is especially serious here in South Florida. It is my number one goal to provide acupuncture as safely as possible, which means many of the pre-coronavirus clinic policies needed to be changed.


With that in mind, I wanted to go over some details regarding our new policies.


Private (one-on-one) treatments only

Sliding scale is $60-80

All treatments by appointment only, no walk-ins

In order to limit the possibility of virus transmission, I need to limit the number of people in the clinic at any one time. As the mission of the clinic has always been to provide affordable acupuncture, I struggled with this, because limiting the number of people means raising prices to keep the lights on. $60 is at the low end of the going rate for private acupuncture treatments, and is the minimum I am able to charge to pay the clinic bills.

I have a standard recliner, a deluxe zero-gravity chair and a massage table available for treatment.

I hope to be able to resume community acupuncture treatments in the future, but we are not there yet.

Limiting the number of people in the clinic means I cannot allow walk-ins. All treatments are by appointment only. I realize that many patients appreciated the ability to walk into the clinic and be treated right away, but this is no longer possible.


Time limit for an appointment is 1 hour

I am currently scheduling one appointment every 90 minutes. This gives me half an hour between treatments to clean frequently-touched clinic surfaces and filter the clinic air with a HEPA purifier. At the beginning of each appointment I will do a quick temperature and pulse oximeter reading. This should give most patients 45-50 minutes to relax with the acupuncture, which in my observation produces the best results. With this in mind, please try to be on time for your appointment. If your appointment time is 10:00 AM, I will need to have you up by 11:00 AM to check you out and get the clinic ready for the next appointment.


Masks are required for everyone entering the clinic and must be worn at all times

Nobody likes wearing a mask. But the science says they work to limit disease transmission, if everybody in close contact wears them. I have all the chairs in the clinic at least 8 feet apart, but I can’t do acupuncture from 8 feet away. Almost all of the patients who see me have risk factors for COVID-19 complications. I have risk factors – some of them serious – and I don’t want myself, my family, or anyone who comes into my clinic to get sick. There will be no exceptions made for this policy.


Our waiting room is closed; no one except the patient(s) with a scheduled appointment will be allowed into the clinic

To keep people from walking in, I will need to keep the front door locked during acupuncture sessions. If you are early to your appointment, please wait until five minutes before your scheduled time to knock on the door. If someone is dropping you off for your appointment, they will need to wait in the parking lot, run errands, etc., while the treatment is going on.


Our insurance carrier requires a signed waiver before treatment. Contact us if you would like a copy in advance.

On your first visit after reopening, I will need you to sign a form before you can enter the treatment space. It is designed to cover any future treatments, so it will only need to be signed once.


Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 or recent exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19 should call or text the clinic to cancel their appointment; no cancellation fee will be charged

Patients who are high-risk are encouraged to work with us remotely through our telehealth portal; we can guide you in recommendations for self-care

If you start to develop flu-like symptoms, a fever, unusual headaches, chest pain, shortness of breath, etc., please notify the clinic and I will cancel your appointment with no charge. It is better at this time to stay home than to come in for acupuncture, and I would encourage you to get tested for the virus.

We offer telehealth services if you would like support with self-care or Chinese herb formulas. Right now, telehealth is the safest way to work with me. Telehealth sessions offer many options that I was previously unable to provide during the normal clinic schedule.

Core Class at Presence

As an acupuncturist, low back pain is one of the most common complaints that I treat in the clinic. As helpful as acupuncture can be in managing low back pain, the problem often recurs. A patient will come to the clinic for a week or two and get sufficient relief to resume their daily activities, only to return in a few months with the same (or sometimes worse) pain.

In these cases, the patient will ask me, “What happened?”, and I will need to tell them that acupuncture, as useful as it is in reducing the pain, isn’t going to solve the problem. The real key to making their back pain go away is… exercise. Yes, specifically exercise which will strengthen the core muscles of the abdomen and the back to keep the spine aligned against the force of gravity, poor biomechanics and other causes of disk injury and pinched nerves. This is not always what they want to hear, but it is what I have observed over more than two decades of professional acupuncture practice, which has included working alongside physical therapists in multi-disciplinary pain clinics. The patients who kept exercising fared much better than those who, for whatever reason, did not.

This is why I’m really excited to host a no-cost one hour class by Hawa Robin Cahn this Saturday at Presence Community Acupuncture. Hawa is the owner of Lake Pilates, just up the road from the clinic. I’ve been working with her personally on my own exercise goals, and I can tell you she is an excellent instructor with many years of experience. Her presentation is very clear, and she always starts with where her clients are at with a lot of encouragement and zero judgement.

If you are interested in attending her class, please let her know by signing up at lakepilates.com/core or calling 954-732-3263. The class is scheduled for Saturday, January 27th, from 4-5 PM. You can click on the image above to see the flyer. Space is limited. I hope to see you there.

More About The Needles 2: Colors!

I often get asked about the needles I use, specifically about the difference in the colors of the needle handles. Frequently the handles of the needles that acupuncturists use are made of metal wire that is wrapped around the shaft of the needle. The needles that I prefer have plastic handles which are color-coded. The colors indicate the thickness of the needle. I use different thicknesses for different people and conditions. As a rule of thumb, I will start by using the thinnest gauges that I feel will be effective in treating the person, and may go up or down in thickness depending on the body’s response to the treatment.

It’s worth noting here that all the needles I use are very thin gauges — the thickest being the light blue handles which are 0.20 mm in diameter, and the thinnest being the dark blue handles which are half that, or 0.10 mm. The most common gauges I use are in between: the red handles which are 0.16 mm and the green ones are 0.12 mm thick. As a point of comparison, the average human hair is between 0.06 and 0.12 mm, which means that the needles I favor are about as thick as a hair. I make comfortable treatment a high priority.

After all of the selected treatment points have been needled, I will make sure you’re feeling okay. In my style of acupuncture, you should be able to rest naturally for 30 to 45 minutes without being distracted by the needles. If you feel any discomfort at any of the points being treated, let me know and I will make adjustments to alleviate it and allow you to relax fully to get the most benefit from your treatment.

More about the needles


My preferred size of acupuncture needle, next to a quarter.

A lot of people are creeped out by the thought of acupuncture because of the needles. When they think of needles, they think of hypodermic needles, sewing needles, knitting needles… so for anyone who hasn’t seen an acupuncture needle, here’s a picture of one. This is the size I use most frequently. The needle shaft is made of sterile stainless steel, 15 millimeters (about half an inch) in length and 16/100 of a millimeter (about… ummm… *really* thin) in diameter. The handle is made from plastic, and is color coded (different diameters have different colors). The actual depth of insertion is about a quarter- to half-way, so usually about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch or so – in other words, very superficial. I normally insert between 10-20 of these per treatment, on 10-20 people a day – which means I’m slinging up to 2000 of these little guys per week.

For most people, even those who are nervous to try acupuncture, the needles turn out to be no big deal. It takes just a few minutes to put them in, and then the effects begin – most people feel a deep relaxation set in, and many people fall asleep while getting the acupuncture. When they wake up, usually after about 45 minutes, they say things like “best sleep I’ve had all week” or “my pain feels much lighter” or just “wow!”

So, if you haven’t tried acupuncture, or haven’t tried it in a while, maybe it’s time to get a treatment. The best places to get these relaxing, stress-easing, pain-relieving effects are the clinics of the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture (POCA). There you can get acupuncture at an affordable rate, as often as you need it.


Acupuncture – What Do You Use It For?

A frequent question which arises when presenting acupuncture to people is “what do you use it for?”.  And this is a very good question.  We acupuncturists, having studied the use of acupuncture for a wide range of health issues, are tempted to answer “anything!”.  But we usually point people to a list of medical conditions, such as the one composed by the World Health Organization. You can find a similar list on almost any acupuncture-related website, including this one.

But it often strikes me that, once people start coming in to get acupuncture, they figure out what works for them and what they want to use it for. In the past week, for example, we have seen a lot of people who are looking for pain relief (this is the most common reason to see an acupuncturist), but also:

  • *people with a lot of job stress, that aggravates either their symptoms or their undesirable habits (like smoking, overeating, drinking too much coffee or alcohol),
  • *people who are taking medication, and have found that the acupuncture reduces the side effects and helps them feel better,
  • *people going through emotional transition, mourning the loss of a parent or the breakup of an intimate relationship,
  • *people who just want to be somewhere that they can rest completely for an hour or so.

One person remarked on their way out, that during the session she had come up with a creative solution to a problem she had been struggling with at work. She hadn’t gone into the session with that intention; she’d been there for knee pain. But in the process of relaxing and quieting her mind, which often happens during acupuncture, the inspiration came to her and she left feeling both relieved and motivated.

People use acupuncture for all kinds of things, many of them not listed in any book. I hear about more and more of them with each passing month. If you get acupuncture, what do you use it for?

The Golden Shiatsu

A Japanese Health-Keeping Method

I remember years ago hearing a story about a colleague who, while in Japan, visited a famous master of shiatsu (Japanese acupressure massage), who was around 80 years old at the time. After observing at the master’s clinic, the two of them went back to the master’s house, following his daily routine. There were three drinking establishments on the way back to the master’s house, and he would stop in at each of them. Each time he would stop, he would have a glass of water, a glass of beer, and a glass of sake.

The colleague was amazed at the old master’s stamina, working long hours doing shiatsu six days a week, imbibing six drinks in the evening, and getting up early the next morning to do it all over again.  What was his secret? The master replied that he did a practice called “Golden Shiatsu” every morning before rising and every night before sleeping.

Golden Shiatsu is also known as “No Shiatsu”, because the pattern resembles the Japanese syllable “No”, which looks like this:

It is done on the abdomen, lying on the back, with the legs straight (or only slightly bent). Begin in the center of your belly, about halfway between your navel and the bottom of your sternum, or breastbone. With the fingertips of both hands, gently and slowly press into your belly. Don’t press too hard that it gets uncomfortable, just start with very light pressure. Then move your fingertips down to just below your navel, and press in gently again. Then move your fingertips across to your right, about 4-6 inches, near the point of the front of your hipbone. Then go up just under your ribcage, then to just under your sternum, pressing with the same slow, gentle pressure each time. Move your fingertips underneath the left ribs, then down  near your left front hipbone, then finally end in the center, just above your pubic area. Then repeat the whole process 3 times, slightly increasing the pressure each time that you go through the cycle.

Remember, go slowly and gently, don’t press so hard that you cause pain. The focus is to gently encourage the digestive system to eliminate any stagnant material in your belly. Try it twice a day for a week or so and see if it doesn’t help improve your digestion and help you feel better overall.

My CA Journey

note: This is a guest blog post i wrote for the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture (POCA), originally posted at http://www.pocacoop.com/prick-prod-provoke/post/ive-been-asked-to-write-a-blog-about-my-ca-journey

I’ve been asked to write a blog post on my CA journey.

Some background: I’ve been in practice since 1995 in a variety of settings. I worked in a rheumatologist’s office, a community HIV clinic, a CAM clinic at a hospital. I had private room practices in various settings: holistic center, home practice, chiropractor’s office. I’ve taught and been an administrator at acupuncture colleges for many years. I’ve taught CEU courses on Japanese Meridian Therapy since about 1998. In light of all that, I think it is pretty safe to say that I’ve been pretty well invested in the standard private room acupuncture model.

I got interested in Community Acupuncture (CA) back when I read Lisa Rohleder’s Acupuncture Today series, back in 2007. I joined Community Acupuncture Network (CAN), and read the posts with interest. In October of 2008 I decided to open up a CAP (Community Acupuncture Practice) and began looking for space.

I hired a realtor to help with finding spaces. The first thing I noticed was that she (like most other people, ultimately including myself, but more on this later) did not understand the nature of Community Acupuncture and so kept finding medical office spaces for me. I kept telling her “Imagine that I’m opening a yoga studio”, but she didn’t quite get it. This was complicated by my own inner doubts about the CA model, both in terms of economics and treatment style/efficacy.

Finally we found a space that seemed a perfect compromise: a former architect’s office with a small waiting room, private office and a larger room which could accommodate 4 or 5 chairs. I immediately understood how I could use it. I would use the private office for intakes, and for private treatments on days when I wasn’t doing CA. The larger room would be the community room. I leased it, painted, had the flooring put in, and in January 2009 opened Presence Community Acupuncture.

I found that I loved doing CA. It wasn’t too long before the idea of being a hybrid (offering private treatments and CA in the same office) was abandoned. But there were some difficulties.

When I first started, I put four chairs in the large room and one table in the office. However, because the idea of treating in chairs was new to me, I lacked confidence in the method; after all, I had been treating on tables for 14 years, and had accumulated a lot of effective treatment strategies which involved needling the back and other areas that are difficult to access with the patient seated in a recliner. To make a long story short, I basically reverted to treating many of the patients as if I still had a private-room practice. But this limited me in terms of openings in my schedule; people would come with friends wanting treatment, just walk in, come early or late or on the wrong day, and often I couldn’t fit them in. My practice numbers declined, and I began to get frustrated: with my practice, with CA and CAN, with my job at the acupuncture college. Three years in, I knew something needed to change.

Something had already begun to change, however. Late in 2011, my home was burglarized. I live in a lower-to-lower-middle income neighborhood. The economy has not been favorable over the last few years, and crime was on the increase; talking to the neighbors, my wife found out that every house on the block had been broken into at least once over the previous months. So my wife began to organize the neighborhood – something that had never happened where we live. Soon we had a community organization with monthly meetings, and involvement with city government and local businesses. With more attention being paid to our neighborhood, the city began to revitalize a business district right by our house. It became very clear to me that I needed to relocate my clinic there, around the corner from where I live.

At that time it hit me. The thing that I had been missing about Community Acupuncture was community.

I took a good long look at what I had been doing with the practice, and how it differed from the model promoted by CAN and now POCA. I looked at the groundwork that had been put down by my wife and the community organization. And I realized that between POCA, the local community and the city I had a lot of resources that I hadn’t been using, for various reasons, and that putting all of those resources together was probably the only way that the clinic was going to thrive.

I opened the new location in December. There are no interior walls. There is a bookcase which divides the reception and treatment areas, some shoji screen dividers for storage areas and one table (used mainly for small children and the occasional back treatment request), and a growing number of chairs. We just had our Grand Opening event, drawing over 50 people from various communities: patients (current and not-so-current), former students, members of our community organization and others nearby, local business owners, and city commissioners and planners. We showed the Community Acupuncture documentary, and a lot of people attending the event got the whole idea of CA very clearly.

The next morning, I had a decent 3 hour shift with 12 patients then drove to a health fair at a mosque in Miami. I gave an extemporaneous talk and so many people there were amazed and delighted that something like CA was available to them in South Florida. I handed out bunches of cards to people who couldn’t wait to tell their family and friends.

Driving home afterwards, very tired after the previous 2 days, i reflected on how grateful i am that i got involved with CA, Lisa and Skip, and everybody involved in the CA movement, and especially how i’m able to bring this all together with my neighborhood, the people i live with, the people i pray with, people who need this and are excited to have the chance to get treated and tell others about it. God is Great.

Acupuncture is a Deeply Relaxing Experience

Oftentimes when acupuncture is discussed, either in the media or on acupuncturists’ websites, a lot of information is given regarding acupuncture in relation to medical problems. For example, you may have heard that acupuncture is good for arthritis, or asthma, or PMS, etc. And this is true, acupuncture is very effective in treating those sorts of issues. But there’s another side to acupuncture that a lot of people are surprised to discover: Acupuncture is a deeply relaxing experience.

Now, if you’ve never experienced it, or only experienced certain types of acupuncture, you may find this to be a curious statement. But it is true. When you get acupuncture, it encourages the release of natural chemicals in your body which not only stop pain, but also help you to relax.

In my experience, this effect is heightened by acupuncture in a peaceful group setting. I was struck by this one day in my former clinic location, which was fairly small. I had a room full of people receiving acupuncture together on a Saturday morning. That day, the tenants next to me began doing renovations in their space – the construction noise was so loud that it sounded as if they were inside my clinic rather than next door. I went back into the room full of clients, thinking they would be agitated and wanting to leave. Instead, I found them all fast asleep.

This response sometimes doesn’t happen until the second or third acupuncture session. The experience may be too new and the person receiving the acupuncture may not have learned to settle into the experience. But as the sessions go on, the body is trained to respond much more quickly to relax. I often hear comments like “I sleep better here than I do at home!” or “I start to feel relaxed (or sleepy) as soon as I walk in the door of the clinic.”

This carries over, incidentally, into people’s lives outside the clinic. People who receive regular acupuncture often report that they are more calm during the day, even in stressful situations like work or traffic. Sometimes they tell me things like “When I start to feel especially stressed, I imagine that I’m in the chair in your clinic with all the needles in.” Sometimes people report that they begin to think more creatively when they are getting acupuncture, or that they receive inspiration, or process old memories. All kinds of things are possible from a deeply relaxed state.

So, you don’t need to be in pain or have a medical condition to experience one of the most important benefits of acupuncture. You may find that it helps you to relax more profoundly than you thought possible.