We have a lot to celebrate this month, other than the Lunar New Year, we also want to honor Black History Month.
As Americans. we need to engage beyond the stories of slavery and racism and recognize the achievements by African Americans and their important participation in U.S. history. The theme for Black History Month in 2022 is "Black Health & Wellness", which is perfect for what we want to share next.
There’s a little known historical development of Chinese medicine in the US. Most media would highlight James Reston’s experience with acupuncture for his emergency appendectomy during Richard Nixon’s trip to China in 1971. Reston, a pulitzer-prize winning journalist, wrote about his amazing experience and recovery with acupuncture in a New York Times article. This sparked nationwide interest in Chinese medicine. However what really propelled the widespread use of acupuncture was the detox program set up by the two very important activist groups, The Black Panthers and Young Lords.
In 1972, acupuncture was passed by the FDA for clinical trials only, but the Black Panthers and Young Lords provided free acupuncture to thousands of people at the Lincoln Detox Center because they were unsatisfied with the use of methadone for treating heroin addiction. One key person who also pushed for acupuncture as a drug free alternative was Mutulu Shakur (Tupac’s stepfather). Shakur is a doctor of acupuncture and co-founded the Black Acupuncture Advisory Association of North America (BAAANA) and the Harlem Institute of Acupuncture.
The Lincoln Detox center also developed the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) protocol, an auricular acupuncture treatment that’s widely used today to treat addiction, stress, PTSD, and mental health.
This also led to the establishment of first acupuncture state boards and legitimization of acupuncture in the 80s. Unfortunately around this time, the Lincoln Detox Center was shut down by an US government operation COINTELPRO, thus erasing this significant and interesting history of the Black Panther and Young Lord’s’ contribution to healthcare and Chinese medicine in the US.
As an Asian American TCM brand, we want to honor our African American counterparts for this incredible gift to Chinese medicine. We put together a list of resources to support the African American community and we welcome suggestions on how we can continue to engage, advocate and improve the well-being of our fellow African Americans.