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Free trauma care for El Paso shooting survivors and first responders

5 Aug

Monday August 5, 2019
For immediate release:

Local licensed therapists and acupuncturists are offering free services for survivors, first responders and families of those affected by the El Paso Wal Mart shooting.

Community ear acupuncture (acudetox) has been used in the aftermath of other shootings and terrorist attacks, such as 9/11 in New York City, and in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in response to violence in recent years.  Volunteers have offered over 300 treatments at the memorial site at the Cielo Vista Wal Mart, for people affected since the day of the mass shooting, Saturday August 3. A report “El Paso Community, Volunteers Come Together To Mourn And Try To Heal” about the acupuncture response was aired on KRWG on Friday August 16th.

The treatment can be helpful for anxiety, stress and symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

This form of trauma care can be found at centers throughout the region including El Paso, Juarez, Anthony and Las Cruces.  Those interested in receiving support can call 575-312-6569, where anyone can receive a referral to a location in the border region.

The response is a collaboration of specialists including the National Alliance for Mental Illness, Families and Youth, INC and Crossroads Acupuncture based out of 1320 S Solano in Las Cruces, Casa Vida at 3501 Hueco El Paso, Texas, the Catholic Diocese of Cd Juarez, and Mariana Salcido, Coordinator for mental health for the city of Juarez.

“We originally started working in the region in response to the violence in Juarez in 2010. That was how our project got started, so we have been working with people affected by violence, by trauma,” said Dr. Ryan Bemis, Executive Director of Crossroads Acupuncture, in an interview with KRWG. Bemis says that these types of ear acupuncture groups are good for creating safe spaces for people.. Bemis is a former acupuncturist for the Department of Defense’s Fort Bliss Warrior Resilience PTSD clinic in El Paso, TX.

Learn more:


Residents in violent border city use acupuncture to cope with trauma, by Angela Kocherga and Hugo Perez on the Border News Bureau

Acupuncture for the trauma spectrum response, in the military Samueli Institute

NADA Ear Acu Training in Guatemala

29 May

Crossroads Acupuncture and Healer2Healer are offering a special NADA ear acupuncture (acudetox) training and cross-cultural experience in Coban, Guatemala. This is a special opportunity to learn this model of care for addictions, trauma, mental health and humanitarian aid, and gain a deeper understanding of indigenous healing for Mayan communities in Central America. You will be learning this technique alongside local community workers in Guatemala.

10 NCCAOM CEU’s (pending approval) for Acupuncturists

Schedule for Training

Live Webinar (TBD): Introduction to the NADA Ear Acupuncture Model (Free for those interested but not committed to taking the training)

Oct 12 and 13: Travel to Guatemala

Oct 14-17 Training in Coban

Oct 18-19: Return Travel

About the NADA training:

  • Fulfills didactic educational requirements for therapists/nurses/health/harm reduction workers to become an Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist (ADS) through the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA). 26 US states currently allow for non-acupucturists to offer this protocol. Email for specifics on your locality.
  • Students will learn application both in behavioral health/addictions/harm reduction as well as for trauma/humanitarian aid/disaster response. This is a fundamental skillset for any acupuncturist interested in working or volunteering abroad, for disaster relief or working in public health settings
  • Clean Needle Technique and gentle auricular acupuncture skillsets
  • Best practices for managing community acupuncture, NADA ear acupuncture groups, and treating multiple patients in one setting
  • First step for acupuncturists interested in becoming NADA ear acupuncture trainers
  • Communication, and empowerment skills for outreach, advocacy, marketting and public health education on the integration of NADA ear acupuncture into a community health setting
  • Science, research and history of the application of acupuncture for trauma, mental health and addictions
  • Simple, fundamental skills and knowledge for working within addictions recovery
  • Cultural competency for applying acupuncture in general in cross-cultural settings
  • Sustainable community health development for acupuncture-based models of care
  • Training offers materials, internship, support for the process of state and national ADS certification/licensing, and mentorship in starting up your own NADA program

About Participating in the Healer to Healer program:

This NADA training offers you the opportunity to work directly with a local Coban Women’s Group. They have been working with Healer 2 Healer for nearly 10 years and work with other humanitarian groups. They have been treating their own patients as well as driving the force of community change and revival of ancestral Mayan healing practices in Coban and surrounding communities. This October trip connects you directly with other local women’s groups in order to offer an authentic cultural exchange.

Registration: a 2 part process

To reserve your space for this program, please follow these directions:

  1. For the NADA training component:
    1. Early registration discount ends August 7th. The discount will equal $485 and offers you a $150 discount if you pay in full by August 7th.
    2. After 8/7/19, the cost will be $635 for the NADA training component.
    3. Refund at 90% will be given up until 1 month prior to the training. Cancellation afterwards will not receive a refund.
    4. If you are paying by PO or later check, cancellation policy still applies.
    5. Send at least a deposit of $300 to secure your place for the NADA training.
    6. Please make checks out to Crossroads Acupuncture. Crossroads Acupuncture, 1320 S. Solano Las Cruces, NM 88001.
    7. Or to pay by credit card or online, go to this link:
    8. Then email with a letter of interest and a current resume. Questions about the Crossroads ADS training: Call Ryan Bemis: 575-936-0200
  2. For the Healer 2 Healer (H2H) experience
    1. If you are taking this NADA training, in addition you will have to apply to be part of the H2H program. Send an email to and a form will be sent to you automatically. Fill it out and send back via email. We will notify you within 7-10 days.
    2. The cost for participation in H2H will be an additional $650 for the early discount if you pay by July 15th. After this date the H2H cost will be $700. This cost includes all major expenses for your journey while you are in Guatemala:
      1. Group shuttles from hotel in Guatemala City to Coban (and return) (Note: if you miss the shuttles you pay for your own).
      2. Group shuttles in Coban from hotel. (Note: If you miss the shuttle, you pay for your own).
      3. Accommodations: One night in Guatemala City, Coban clinic nights, one night in Antigua
      4. Breakfast for all days
      5. H2H Group Dinners first and last nights
      6. CEU’s for LAc’s (pending NCCAOM approval)
      7. Clinic experience for participants
      8. (Doesn’t include additional meals, snacks or flight to/from Guatemala.)
    3. Learn more about H2hH here. Questions about H2H and this particular group participation: Email Frederic Lim email

About the NADA Training Program

Crossroads Acupuncture, a 501-c-3 organization has trained over a 250 providers in Acudetox since 2011, and has helped communities in the border region provide over 90,000 treatments primarily within underserved areas.  Click here to learn about Crossroads’ NADA Registered Trainer, Ryan Bemis.

Articles/Essays on Crossroads’ training program

Safe space, solidarity and something more than air conditioning, Commencement address by Ryan Bemis at the 2018 Doctoral and Master’s graduating classes at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland, Oregon

“A Million Tiny Daggers,” Essay within Acid West, by Joshua Wheeler
Residents in violent border city use acupuncture to cope with trauma, by the Border News Bureau:

Helping Mexico’s poor and mentally ill, by the Border News Bureau:

Acupuncture for healing in border communities, By Molly Molloy, Latina Lista

East meets SouthWest, Las Cruces Bulletin story on Crossroads:–cruces-bulletin-by-zak-hansen/

“The community trainer:  Making Acupuncture Accessible,” within “Untold Stories of American Acupuncturists,” by Bonnie Koenig and Jason Stein.

NADA solidarity with refugees as a hard rain falls

17 May

By Ryan Bemis, DOM

Originally published on Blue Poppy Press

April 1, 2019

I like to hike up into the Franklin Mountains above my home, the rugged high desert ridges that form the farthest western border tip of Texas, along a trail above a white giant Texas Star beaming south off of the mountainside towards Mexico, way up to a place where I can look down and I cannot distinguish where the international border line is. I can’t see the Rio Grande river. I can’t see the wall. I can’t see that line where the United States becomes Mexico – I can’t tell where “America” begins or ends.

I just see these two cities—El Paso and Juarez—blend together as one community.  And I like to imagine, sitting up there, looking down, that we’re all just one as a people.

And then I have to slap myself, wake myself up   Because “We are one” is not reality in the borderlands,not reality in America.  Unity is a dream right now. The border is real.  It shapes the narrative of the people.  

We are divided in America, right here, right now.  This is palpable.  And yet immigrants are coming here from around the world right now, fleeing war and extortion and pistols pointed at their heads, crossing jungles, over deserts, across oceans, leaving behind buried family, bringing with their babies in arms, arriving out of vulnerability, searching for safety.

Their hope: that we the people will welcome them in solidarity. 

But instead they’re too often called criminals. They’re locked up, put into cages, or cast away and rejected.  These are the realities of America.

Just dreaming about a better world from up on that mountain top looking down at the border doesn’t do a thing.  The ongoing human rights catastrophe of how we respond to refugees at the US-Mexico Border poses an existential challenge to our nation’s integrity. It shakes us out of our comfort zone.  

There’s a lot of hard work to be done.  The NADA acupuncture model opens the door for us to do some of this work. 

Tens of thousands of migrants have traversed the continent arriving at the US border in recent months, begging for asylum.  From Honduras and Cuba and Uganda and Venezuela and places that this globalized world has failed, their struggle to survive has driven them to the banks of the Rio Grande, to the desert, to the wall.  

Walking over the bridge today, I see hundreds of migrants corralled in custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), huddled under space blankets, the children and adults, with pieces of these tattered silver plastic sheets clinging to the razor wire strung above the chain link fences caging them, rattled by the cold March desert wind.  They sit on the dirt and the gravel. They wait their turn to be processed by a fugue of racist bureaucracy, out of which they are most likely to, in the end, be imprisoned or deported back to the very places they fled out of fear.  Many are kids who have suffered human rights abuses, some are dying, at the hands these authorities.  Many immigrants have been hiding from immigration agents lurking in the shadows of our neighborhoods since Trump took office.  

None of this makes sense at all.  At least to me.   What does make sense in my intersection with this borderland reality is sticking needles in the ears of people and creating circles for them to sit within a supportive community of care in silence.  And teaching other people within these communities how to hold this type of safe space.  A growing number of these refugees are sheltered within local churches who offer hospitality and healthcare to people under siege.   We partner with them.  As a full body acupuncturist, I have the opportunity to witness these non-acupuncturists–NADA-trained volunteers–find bold new ways to offer this model of care: for migrants camped out on this bridge, inside Sunday school rooms, on pews after mass, in an overcrowded shelter alongside 600 other refugees.  

Who are these people sitting silently together with needles hanging from their ears?  A Colombian man who escaped a civil war in his home decades ago.   A Guatemalan woman fleeing violence, carrying her infant baby by herself.  A Cuban man who traversed Panamanian jungles escaping bandits and panthers to cross America. A Rwandan man whose entire family was executed, and as the lone survivor has passed through a dozen countries en-route to the US/Mexico border. 

The NADA model gives us the opportunity to check our othering of migrants at the door and be radically present for whomever is knocking.  Having hundreds of people now trained in the NADA protocol throughout the borderlands, ready and integrated into local communities, the ability to offer acupuncture makes our community more able to respond with compassion, to be able to open that door and step into their own humanity.  

We remember here in the borderlands the Latino roots of the spirit of NADA now some 45 years since NADA rose out of a place of poverty and injustice and racism in the Bronx, just miles from Lady Liberty’s all-are-welcome torch, where another Latino community survived hard times by digging into the grassroots, out of which they transcended their social reality and inspired an international movement of solidarity, and created an authentic acupuncture-based preferential option for the poor.  It is this spirit of solidarity with the poorest of the poor, wherever we stand offering acupuncture in America, that keeps us grounded and focused as a hard rain falls across this land.   

Ryan Bemis, DOM, serves as Executive Director of Crossroads Community Supported Healthcare, a 501c3 Non-profit organization whose mission is to make acupuncture affordable and accessible to people of all income levels through the support of local communities.  Donate through their GoFundMe Campaign which supports their Refugee Care Program.  To find more information on volunteering as a teacher for their community acupuncture school in Mexico, Promotores Descalzos (Barefoot Health Promoters), visit to

Light and Dark in the Deep South Series

16 Jan

Originally published in Guidepoints: News from NADA

Light and Dark in the Deep South

Part 1:  AAAOM Law Spoils NADA South Carolina

By Ryan Bemis

In 2005 the AAAOM endorsed a bill that stamped NADA out of South Carolina.  Top acu-addictions expert Alan Trachtenberg pins protectionist policies on acu-guild interests.

Guidepoints, February 2010

“Continue to give strength and wisdom to those burdened with leadership and decisions….” from a prayer read to South Carolina House Representatives March 27, 2003, hours before the Herbkersman bill was introduced.   

Some say it takes a lottery ticket to do great things.  Others say it takes great leaders.  Last March, a local paper asked one South Carolina NADA-trained acupuncturist what he would do if he won the lottery.  Affordable acupuncture for the addicted was the dream he described.  Today, no known South Carolina licensed acupuncturists (LAcs) work in addictions treatment. But in years past, without waiting for a lottery win, NADA style treatment did exist in the state. Addiction patients benefitted from the services of non-LAc, NADA-trained Acu Detox Specialists (ADSes). That is, until a new state law took away that option.

NADA-trained paramedic Chuck Bagley says he received a green light to pilot an acu detox program in five correctional facilities in the stateHis only barrier was the passing of a new acupuncture law (H 3891), endorsed by the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM), an acupuncturist-run guild identifying itself as “the unifying force for American acupuncturists.”

Proponent LAc’s claim the 2005 law spells progress for themselves and turf-checks physicians who must now be authorized by another acu guild authorizing body (the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM)) in order to practice acupuncture.  The bill also eliminates the need for LAcs to be supervised or referred by a physician, a big step in a state where, years earlier, LAcs worked only under on-site “direct supervision” of an MD.

The new law now authorized LAcs to dictate on-site “direct supervision” for all ADSes, a glaring anti-NADA policy.  As a result, South Carolina NADA trained workers say they cannot needle because their agencies cannot afford to hire an on-site LAc.

Why should ADSes need on-site direct supervision?  Guidepoints asks a leading acupuncture and addictions researcher. “There’s no reason,” replies Alan Trachtenberg, who organized the 1997 National Institute of Health Consensus Development Conference on acupuncture and headed their Office of Alternative Medicine (precursor to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine). He attributes protectionist laws, like South Carolina’s, which also bans physicians from providing acupuncture care, to the interests of acupuncture guilds.

Meanwhile, several NADA members point to a former acupuncture guild leader, AAAOM Ex-President Martin Herbkersman, as the driving force behind cutting ADSes out of the state.

The Columbia-based LAc denies this allegation and blames the insertion of “direct supervision” on an unnamed legislator.  However, his brother, Rep. William Herbkersman was a legislator at this time, and was, in fact, co-sponsor of the bill.  Furthermore, Acupuncture Today(April, 2005) applauds the family pair as successful engineers of the bill. The bill’s original text includes the anti-NADA language when introduced on March 27, 2003. To read the full text of the bill, go to:

Herbkersman affirms that the AAAOM gave the authors of H3891 access to model legislation templates around the country, in particular nearby southeastern states.  One local LAc (the source would like to remain unnamed out of fear of provoking controversy) reports that Herbkersman said the 2005 bill was based on a failed 2002 South Carolina acupuncture law which was taken from a Georgia law (see Guidepoints, May 2002). Both of these laws included “direct supervision.”  In Georgia, mirroring its neighbor, no known non-LAc ADSes practice.

The AAAOM appears in perfect accord with the anti-NADA language of the 2003 bill. “Yes they should have direct supervision because they’re technicians, not acupuncturists,” says sitting AAAOM President Deborah Lincoln.  Meanwhile, Mina Larson, the public relations spokeswoman for NCCAOM (AAAOM counterpart), goes so far as to assert that all ADSes “should be licensed as acupuncturists” before needling the ear.

Trachtenberg disagrees.  “The licensed acupuncturists certainly have no data to show that what they do is any safer than what ADSes do.   If there’s no data, why make that policy or law?”

AAAOM guild leader Lincoln explains their anti-NADA law was “based on one we put together for national consensus.”  Her predecessor, Martin Herbkersman, refuses to believe that his law should necessarily rub NADA off the map, a state of denial to which the NCCAOM also clings.  Both praise the recently passed anti-NADA Delaware acupuncture law as “ideal legislation” even though it outlaws the practice of 19 veteran ADSes, many of whom had delivered acu care to thousands of under-served clients since 1993.

Sitting South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (currently under fire for an extramarital affair) foresaw problems and vetoed W. Herbkersman’s bill, stating in a letter to the Senate that “it was unduly burdensome and imposed unnecessary regulatory restrictions on the profession”.  In the end, Herbkersman struck back, turned against his Republican leader and led the overriding of the veto. In December 2004, the Governor predicted the bill would “smother opportunity and stifle productivity for some South Carolinians.”

Opportunities were likewise smothered by the bill’s demand for ADSes to complete NCCAOM’s clean needle technique course required for full body acupuncturists. To pass the course, South Carolina ADSeswould have to needle full body points, points for which they are prohibited by the same law to needle.

It is not clear if ADS Bill Wells would actually be put behind bars if he needled full-body points during a NCCAOM clean needle course.  The South Carolina medical board has not responded to Guidepointsqueries on such penalties.  Nonetheless, Bill says he cannot afford the $300 NCCAOM course or hire an on-site LAc supervisor and thus cannot treat his pain pill-addicted clients, fulfilling Gov. Sanford’s prophecy. The NCCAOM clean needle course requirement “makes no sense” to Trachtenberg and is dubbed a “a straw dog” by NADA President Kenneth “Ken” Carter who already trained Bill in NADA’s clean needle training, accepted as safe and standard procedure in all other NADA friendly states.  Ken criticizes the makers of Herbkersman’s bill as “manipulative” and having an “ulterior motive.”

“What is on Dr. Herbkersman’s agenda for the future?” asks Acupuncture Today (April, 2005) to which he replied: “Protecting our new law.”  His law created a special committee within the medical board for which he assumed chairmanship upon passage in 2005.  What his law didn’t allow him to do was call himself a “Dr.,” a title he alone bears among his colleagues on his state association’s website, though he has never attended medical school or a doctoral acupuncture program.  Herbkersman himself challenges a Guidepoints reporter with the question:  if ADSes are allowed to needle the ear with the five-point protocol, “What prevents someone to do a knee protocol?  I’m just curious.”

Ken, who is a medical doctor, responds that NADA trainees do not learn and are not authorized to needle points other than the five-point protocol; the NCCAOM clean needle course is absolutely outside their scope of practice. He laments the lost foothold of the 56 non-LAc South Carolina ADSes, many of whom he personally trained and mentored. They worked in churches, hospitals, dual diagnosis programs, a medical school and a pain clinic. In a state named “conservative in many ways” by Herbkersman, ADSes had to confront many insular elements in their pioneering.  However, no obstacles blocked their progress like his bill, H 3891.  At the conclusion of the Guidepoints interview, Herbkersman requested he not be credited as the bill’s author.

Five years since NADA was sidelined in South Carolina, Ken contemplates, “I can’t help but think about the forces of light and dark.  You always have to ask yourself: What side do you want to be on there?  The forces of darkness were against NADA in South Carolina.”

Light and Dark in the Deep South Part 2: Direct Pulse on Crazy Laws and Addicts in Prison

By Ryan Bemis

Guidepoints, April 2010

Martin Herbkersman’s acupuncture law continues to prevent Chuck Bagley from treating prisoners and 12-steppers with acu detox. The AAAOM remains silent on how they achieved consensus before endorsing the Herbkersman anti-NADA law. Several sources tell Guidepoints that the AAAOM is not anti-NADA. 

“Then I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness,” Ecclesiastes 2:13, read to the South Carolina Senate before Sen. Robert W. Hayes, Jr. requested to allow general supervision of ADSes, Wednesday, April 23, 2008. 

“It’s one of South Carolina’s crazy laws,” remarks paramedic Chuck Bagley of the Herbkersman bill (H 3891). The law “most likely” had national consensus on its side, or at least that is what acupuncture guild leader Deborah Lincoln recalled in a Guidepoints interview in January 2010. Guidepoints has since asked Lincoln to explain how national consensus was obtained but received no answer yet. One thing is clear: NADA was never consulted. In April, she stepped down as president of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM).

Chuck planned to install NADA programs in South Carolina prisons to aid inmates suffering from acute withdrawal symptoms. “I had a plan worked out and the prison people saw no problem with it.” He maintains he was blocked only by licensed acupuncturists (LAcs) on the medical board. “They say that we can’t do anything without direct supervision.”

In his 20-year paramedic/EMT career Chuck cannot recall once when he was required to be supervised directly by an on-site physician, let alone a LAc, to perform his duties. “If they let me put a chest tube into your chest, why won’t they let me stick a needle in your ear?” Chuck started in emergency medicine in 1967 and was one of the first paramedics trained in his state in 1974.

The chair of the South Carolina acupuncture committee and architect of the 2005 anti-NADA bill, Martin Herbkersman, affirms that no LAc works in addictions programs across the state. “Some were going to. The question is: ‘Who’s going to pay for it?’”

Chuck arranged a minimum-wage salary to provide regular acu detox groups at York County correctional facilities. “I was able to go on a daily basis. I was going to have an entire cell block to treat.” He recalls appealing to Herbkersman’s acupuncture committee. “That’s where I got stonewalled.” Chuck suggested cell phones, which paramedics tote on the job, could suffice for “general” off-site supervision of ADSes. “I couldn’t put my finger on what the problem was. It was kind of like we were a threat to them.”

Alan Trachtenberg, a key figure in U.S. government activities related to both general acupuncture and to acu detox, cites “a long history” in the U.S. of “acupuncturists sniping at physicians who do acupuncture; physicians sniping at acupuncturists; acupuncturists sniping at ADSes.” Acupuncture is the only medical procedure excluded from MD’s scope of practice in states like South Carolina, which he calls “a real anomaly” among medical laws in the U.S. In some states, he explains, physicians like himself are permitted to perform surgery while at the same time prohibited from needling acupuncture points, raising the question: “Is acupuncture more dangerous than brain surgery?” Trachtenberg helped facilitate lifting the FDA ban on acupuncture needles in the mid ’90s. “Let’s be honest: Acupuncture is not brain surgery!”

Herbkersman argues that full-body LAcs “tend to treat holistically.” He illuminates his attitude towards ADSes, calling them “lower tiers,” insisting they “are not the main concern.” Meanwhile, Trachtenberg, who has unfailingly promoted the role of ADSes on national forums each time the issue has come up, says ADSes work closely with communities of addictions recovery when compared to LAcs. Even Herbkersman, who works in private practice, admits, “I don’t have my hand on the pulse of that community.”

Chuck has been feeling pulses of recovering addicts for decades. As a paramedic, he’s had “to go into jails and get them out of there for anything from seizures to full-blown withdrawals because they couldn’t get into a treatment center.” Now retired, he continues to help prisoners through NA and AA outreach. “I got to see how addicts end up in jails. That’s where I really see the need for acu detox.”

With few treatment slots open in York County, more recovering addicts turn to 12-step groups which have been indispensable, says Chuck. At times they break open the Big Book in their own garages. Groups meet throughout the day and night at the Rockhill Serenity Club, where he has served as a board member for 15 years. He envisions NADA-style treatments there, too, estimating 150 potential daily entrants. “It all depends on that one hurdle (direct supervision) that’s holding all the water in the world back.”

Herbkersman says he can’t help, and continues to dispute NADA, asking, “Are we giving them the fullness of the medicine if they only did NADA points?” He recalls one formative experience as an acupuncture student which guides his vision for addictions treatment. Decades ago during an intern stint at an addictions program in the Southern California beach community of Marina Del Ray, he was permitted to needle full-body acupuncture points.

Herbkersman’s ignorance of NADA calls to mind another former AAAOM president, Dr. Harvey Kaltsas. In 1993, in a letter to the highest U.S. governmental authorities in addictions treatment (including 2 U.S. Senators), Kaltsas representing himself as the AAAOM president, attacked NADA in spite of widespread support for NADA within the acupuncture prorfession (including the AAAOM).  Later in the letter, he asked the federal government for $25,000 in discretionary funds to help him trail blaze a new addictions education program for acupuncturists. In the end, Kaltsas’ failure to consult NADA and other national acupuncture organizations undermined his efforts and contributed to rife and costly divisions throughout the acupuncture profession.

Notwithstanding, a sober inquiry into the process by which he gathered consensus for an anti-NADA bill within the acupuncture guild is warranted. Guidepoints has submitted a request to the AAAOM asking for board meeting minutes when their endorsement of Herbkersman’s anti-NADA law was discussed. At press time, no response was received. Herbkersman was a board member during this time, before his organization merged with the Alliance. (Editorial note: the Alliance had been the pro-NADA national acupuncture organization from 1994 to 2007, when it merged with AAOM to form the AAAOM.) NADA supporters have waited to see if the new AAAOM would benefit NADA (See Guidepoints, March 2007).

Consensus or not, could the Herbkersman bill be dismissed as a misguided policy of the past, a mere shadow of the notorious “old guard” of the acupuncture profession? Several senior guild leaders resigned last spring. Various sources from inside and outside the guild leadership tell Guidepoints that today the AAAOM is not anti-NADA. As new AAAOM leaders take the stage in 2010, NADA president Kenneth “Ken” Carter encourages the AAAOM to support ADSes like Chuck Bagley. Meanwhile, the AAAOM has clarified how they support legislation. Executive Director Rebekah Christensen relays that AAAOM work is only done on a state-by state basis, from directives of state acupuncture groups, irrespective of how it affects NADA. Therefore fertile testing ground for how the AAAOM or any acupuncture group supports non-LAc ADSes remains in key contested states.

News of progress in these states was a highlight of the 2010 NADA Conference in New Orleans in March. Members heard from Phillip Oliver, Sr., an Atlanta ADS pioneer who had been treating chronic pain of sickle cell patients in acu detox groups. He rejected any notion that his strict state regulations could hold his NADA team back. “Things will change. They have to. A provider can’t challenge a patient who says, ‘This is going to help me.'” Phillip died of a heart attack weeks later. Last time we spoke, he invoked the civil rights movement as a blueprint for NADA’s new mission. “It didn’t happen ‘til the people made it happen.”

NADA sends our thoughts to the family and colleagues of Phillip Oliver, Sr.   


Light and Dark in the Deep South, Part 3: LAcs Lack Jobs as Herbkersman Stops NADA Again

By Ryan Bemis

Guidepoints, July 2010
In the third part of an investigation into turf protectionism in South Carolina, Guidepoints discovers that again Rep. William Herbkersman effectively stood against NADA in 2008 when Bill Wells attempted pro-NADA legislation (S 799).  Two years later, his brother Martin Herbkersman cites a severe shortage of jobs for LAcs, while NADA advocates in other states report that ADS-friendly legislation creates jobs for LAcs.

“Our hearts go out to the disadvantaged, to the poor, to those with little or no access to health care.” From a prayer read to South Carolina Senators before they ratified the pro-NADA law, S 799, May 29, 2008.

With Acu Detox Specialists sidelined in South Carolina, opportunities for acupuncturists are also limited.  One half of all acupuncturists are out of work, estimates former acupuncture guild leader Martin Herbkersman.  He avows that getting acupuncturists (LAcs) jobs in public health would happen if national legislation were passed to authorize Medicare coverage for acupuncture.  For 17 years, guild leaders of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) have ventured to do this, but haven’t achieved it.

Without waiting for them, NADA advocates–both LAcs and non-LAcs–have for 25 years opened the door for acupuncturists in public health in several states.  For example, one of the most conservative acupuncture communities in the country–New Mexico–supported a pro-NADA law in 2001.  In turn, they created 16 new jobs for acupuncturists to work as off-site “general” supervisors.   Today, nine years later, 20 mostly rural public health programs–each relying on the New Mexico Department of Health’s (DOH) assistance–depend on Acu Detox Specialists (ADSes) to offer acu detox to thousands of low-income clients each year.   The state can’t afford to hire licensed acupuncturists to do all the needling, DOH officials report, but instead prefer to utilize existing NADA-trained staff as a cost-effective acu detox delivery model.

Funding is also tight in the Southeast.   South Carolina state budget cuts recently led to one premier detoxification program in Spartanberg to close.  Keeping existing addictions services available “is a feat in this economy,” explains Keystone Executive Director Janet Martini.  In 2009, Keystone provided addictions prevention, intervention and treatment for 127,000 South Carolinans “regardless of ability to pay”–no small feat.  Someday Janet hopes to use her already NADA-trained staff to add acu detox to their menu of services, but can’t afford to hire an on-site “direct” supervising LAc as mandated by the 2005 Herbkersman anti-NADA law (H 3891).

NADA activist Bill Wells set forth to change this.  Hope of NADA outreach in 12-step groups, prisons, a juvenile drug court and other public health programs also depended on him.   Wells brought his concerns to the acupuncture committee.  He made personal pleas to the chair, Martin Herbkersman. As NADA’s point person in South Carolina, Wells’ case was strong: no Acu Detox Specialists (ADSes) had been able to practice in the two years since the Herbkersman anti-NADA law passed.  Herbkersman made his case clear to Wells:  he told him that only LAcs should be able to perform acu detox, reports Wells. Nothing less than a new law could revive NADA programs.

How Herbkersman Stopped NADA
In May 2007, Wells garnered support from South Carolina Senator Wes Hayes to introduce S 799, a public health initiative to remove “direct” supervision requirements of ADSes, hence permitting ADSes to be supervised like any other ancillary medical worker, an ADS practice that has proved to be safe in the state since 1997. His pro-NADA law would ultimately fail. However, records of the complex and drawn out sausage-making process of the bill reveal that Wells was not to blame.

Passed in the Senate, the bill arrived in the House in 2008, where a committee removed the pro-NADA initiative (which was the only wording contained in the bill).  The reason why remains surreptitious.  The identity of the culprit legislator blamed for inserting the anti-NADA language (into H 3891) in the first place has not been revealed.  Martin Herbkersman has denied responsibility for the fate of ADSes from both H 3891 and S 799.  However, House records show that his brother, Rep. William Herbkersman, insisted on wiping out the pro-NADA bill (S 799) and replacing the entire with a score of unrelated amendments.  One of these amendments was to permit LAc’s like Herbkersman to legally carry the title, “Doctor.”

The Senate rejected the House’s measures and re-installed the pro-NADA clause. In retaliation, the House again struck the pro-NADA clause. This forced a seldom granted House-Senate open debate.  Known as a “Free Conference,” this unique debate aims to increase transparency in legislative discourse, and is only granted a few times a year under special circumstances, explains Senate Clerk Ken Moffitt.  As a result, six legislators, including Sen. Hayes (D) and Rep. Herbkersman (R), finally settled to retain both the Senate’s pro-NADA clause and the House’s five amendments, ratified as a group of amendments in May 2008. (Go to to follow the full legislative history)

Superfluous “bobtail” amendments have long been an enemy of Republican Governor Mark Sanford; any Carolina politician knows this.  And by the time Sen. Hayes’ plain and simple pro-NADA amendment (56 words; 2 sentences) arrived on Sanford’s desk, the House’s amendments had turned S 799 into sausage (640 words; including 4 unrelated amendments), subject to his scrutiny.  Gov. Sanford explained that he vetoed the package because he disagreed that LAcs need to bear the title “Doctor.”  The veto was overridden by the Senate.  The House, however, sustained it, with Rep. Herbkersman, suddenly voting to sustain the veto.  After confusing the legislative process by promoting unrelated amendments destined to sink the entire bill (which included the pro-NADA amendment), Rep. Herbkersman switched to kill the bill in June 2008.

LAcs Need Jobs, ADSes Need Their Help
The Pro-NADA S 799 died two years ago, about the same time Bob Stanford graduated from acupuncture school.  Now practicing in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Sanford reports his acupuncture clinic has “been slow this year.”   Across the state, in Columbia, Martin Herbkersman takes on a critical inquiry into the acupuncture profession:  “What are the options coming out of school?”

Typical acupuncture students, upon graduation, are burdened with over $100,000 in debt to pay, says another local LAc, William Hendry.  He points out that NADA training is cheap for ADSes, while the cost of a full body acupuncture degree “mandates a ‘for profit’ business.”  A recent survey confirms the dearth of LAcs employed in public health settings:  91% of LAcs are self employed.  Conducted by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), the survey is less pessimistic than Herbkersman’s 50% failure rate for LAcs, but confirms the under-employment in the acupuncture profession:  39% of survey respondents work 20 hours a week or less, and 59% work 30 hours a week or less.  Getting clients in the door is also a problem documented:   91% of LAcs see 10 or fewer new patients every week, while 33% see 10 or fewer returning patients per week.

“There’s not a lot of acupuncture around in general,” reports Sanford, who hopes to someday work in addictions treatment.  “People really aren’t sure about what (acupuncture) is and what it will do.”

Introducing new clients to the use of acupuncture needles for health care has been one common goal that leaders from both NADA and AAAOM share.  Wells offered his pain-pill addicted clients acu detox as part comprehensive pain management until protectionist policies struck deep, he reports.  “They have effectively cut out acu detox which has been shown to be extremely effective with addictions. It seems that acupuncturists in other states seem to not have a problem with it.  But South Carolina: different story.”

Many LAcs across the US have long stood by the role of ADS.  In Maryland, the acupuncture community supported a successful law change to remove ADS “direct” supervision requirements in 2004.  “The issue with direct supervision is, of course, money,” says NADA registered trainer and acupuncturist David Wurzel (See page _____ in this issue for a feature story on NADA Advocacy in Maryland).  “For the few years we had direct supervision there were no programs.  Simple as that.  If programs could afford to pay an acupuncturist full time to do the protocol then there would be no need for ADSes.  Direct supervision is basically saying pay me to do nothing.  Not a bad gig if one could get it.”

Today Wurzel has eight gigs as an ADS general off-site supervisor (visiting once monthly), earning $12,000 total last year in these roles–not a bad supplemental income for a LAc with a private practice.  Across the state, 8 Maryland LAcs are paid to assist 36 ADSes (10 new ADS applications pending).  As off-site ADS supervisors, other health professionals operate underneath their LAc license, just as medical doctors offer general supervision in the western healthcare delivery system.  Because of ADS/LAc collaboration, NADA Maryland’s acu care delivery system operates in twenty public health programs, from recovering veterans in inner-city Baltimore to a dual diagnosis program in the foothills of the Appalachia.

Working as an ADS general supervisor has other benefits for LAcs, as well.  Due to the relationships Wurzel has built within NADA programs, today–in his private practice, The Chi Farm–he treats ADSes as well as their children, their families and their friends.  Michael Bartlinski, the director at one Baltimore addictions program, believes the work of the ADSes needling the ear has “piqued the interest” of his clients–many now want to and are ready to receive full body acupuncture.  As ADSes continue perform the five-point protocol, Bartlinski would have Wurzel treat his clients’ chronic pain issues.

The Death of S 799:  From Simple Pro-NADA to Sausage

  1. Hayes introduces the pro-NADA bill S 799
    2. House strikes the pro-NADA clause and adds”bobtail” amendments
    3. Senate rejects House’s anti-NADA move
    4. House and Herbkersman insist on anti-NADA
    5. Herbkersman and Hayes have open debate
    6. Congress ratifies S 799 with both pro-NADA and Herbkersman clauses
    7. Gov. Sanford vetoes S 799 because of Herbkersman “Doctor” clause
    8. Senate and Hayes override veto
    9. House and Herbkersman sustain veto

A million tiny daggers, by Joshua Wheeler

30 Aug

Crossroads Acupuncture celebrated its newly renovated clinic space in Oct 2018 inside Families and Youth, INC with an Open House, a ribbon cutting ceremony provided by the Green Chamber of Commerce, and a book reading and book signing by Joshua Wheeler.  Refreshments will also be provided.

Wheeler’s book about Southern New Mexico, Acid West, which was included on Oprah’s Summer Reading List, includes a chapter “A Million Tiny Daggers” that features Crossroads’ work providing acupuncture for underserved communities in the border region.  Wheeler will offer a book reading, and also be available to discuss his writing of this book. Wheeler followed Crossroads’ volunteers around for 3 years prior to publishing this new book, which has received praise, in addition to, from the  Los Angeles Times,  The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Santa Fe New Mexican, and Spectrum Culture.

Crossroads moved its community acupuncture clinic into Families and Youth, INC (FYI) in 2017.  With FYI expanding its current mental health services, Crossroads is renovating its current clinic space within FYI’s main building on Solano to make a permanent home, which will include a direct entrance from the main FYI lobby.

Crossroads is a proud member of the Green Chamber of Commerce and remains committed to the Green Chamber’s Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet and Profit.

“Acupuncture as a healthcare modality has a relative low environmental impact on the planet,” says Ryan Bemis, Executive Director of the non-profit organization, Crossroads Acupuncture.  “The tiny hair thin needles that are used in acupuncture practice are the main waste product.  With the more than 75,000 treatments our project has provided, the needles have been disposed in a total of x4, 10-gallon bins.  In addition, acupuncture needles are extremely affordable.  It costs about 50 cents in clinic materials to provide one treatment.  We also offer acupuncture at an affordable rate, which is an important aspect of our Triple Bottom Line.  Of all of these 75k treatments, each patient pays out of pocket on average of $10 per person.”

Crossroads has been offering affordable acupuncture care in Las Cruces since 2012, and maintained a downtown clinic location off of the farmer’s market for several years before moving into the FYI building.  In addition to their community acupuncture clinic at FYI, they have established a network of free ear acupuncture clinics throughout the border region.  In addition, they support a project assisting people affected by violence in Juarez, Mexico, known as Flores de Juarez.  Crossroads’ mission is to make healthcare accessible and affordable to people of all income levels through the support of local communities.  Crossroads does do this through providing low-cost services, training health providers in cost-effective techniques, and helping underserved groups establish and sustain their own community supported health projects.

NADA ear acupuncture training schedule

15 Apr

Schedule for Crossroads’ NADA Acudetox Ear Acupuncture Training program

April 26-28 @ UNM Hospitals Albuquerque, New Mexico

June 14-16, 2019 @ Mexico

Oct 14-16 @ Coban, Guatemala

November 8-11, 2019 @ UNM Hospitals Albuquerque, New Mexico

Instructions for applicants:

      1. For our Guatemala training, there is a separate application process. Go to this link for full details and instructions.
      2. For all other applicants, download the registration form.
      1. Email all materials, at least a $300 deposit (or the full cost for the early registration discount) including a letter of interest to:  or mail to Crossroads 1320 S Solano Las Cruces, NM 88001
    1. Invite your colleagues and stay tuned for upcoming details on our facebook page.

Early registration discount (2 months before training)

Early registration discount (2 months before training)


Late registration full payment


Deposit on Acudetox training

This minimal deposit reserves your space


Training covers these areas
  • Fulfills didactic educational requirements for therapists/nurses/health/harm reduction workers to become Nationally Certified as Acupuncture Detoxification Specialists (NADA) as well as state certification in New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Arizona, and 22 other US states (email for a complete list of states that allow this certification for non-acupuncturists.
  • Students will learn application both in behavioral health/addictions/harm reduction as well as for trauma/humanitarian aid/disaster response.
  • Clean Needle Technique and gentle auricular acupuncture skillsets
  • Best practices for managing community acupuncture, NADA ear acupuncture groups, and treating multiple patients in one setting
  • First step for acupuncturists interested in becoming NADA ear acupuncture trainers
  • Communication, and empowerment skills for outreach, advocacy, marketting and public health education on the integration of NADA ear acupuncture into a community health setting
  • Science, research and history of the application of acupuncture for trauma, mental health and addictions
  • Simple, fundamental skills and knowledge for working within addictions recovery
  • Cultural competency in cross-cultural settings
  • Sustainable community health development

About acudetox

NADA Ear Acupuncture or Acudetox can help reduce cravings, insomnia, drug dreams, anxiety and depression during addictions withdrawal, as part of prevention for at risk groups, and can be used to help prevent relapse.  Acudetox is extremely cost-effective and safe and has no medication interactions or adverse side-effectives.  It is applied internationally within psychiatric care, as well as humanitarian aid/disaster relief.  This training will prepare students to practice in all types of settings.

How does it work? This style of acupuncture is known to activate the vagus nerve. It also stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural opiates, and helps regulate seratonin and dopamine, the brain chemicals involved with addiction. It provides deep relaxation and helps restore internal harmony, which supports the patient in their own process of recovery.  Research supports the use of Acudetox to improve retention rates, reduce program costs and reduce recidivism. 

Learn more about acudetox…

About the Training Program

Crossroads Acupuncture, a 501-c-3 organization has trained over a 250 providers in Acudetox since 2011, and has helped communities in the border region provide over 80,000 treatments primarily within underserved areas.  This course contributes to the qualifications necessary to use this technique to treat addictions in the US.   After training, we support students up until certification, including an optional portion of the 40 hour supervised internship within programs serving the homeless, low-income/marginalized communities as well as addictions and refugee care in the border region.  Crossroads will teach you how to set up and sustain an acudetox clinic  within a public health setting is also included as part of the cost of the training. The cost also covers training materials, a training manual, and access to our online acudetox library  See registration form for more details. Click here to learn about Crossroads’ NADA Registered Trainer, Ryan Bemis.

Articles/Essays on Crossroads’ training program

“A Million Tiny Daggers,” Essay within Acid West, by Joshua Wheeler
Residents in violent border city use acupuncture to cope with trauma, by the Border News Bureau:

Helping Mexico’s poor and mentally ill, by the Border News Bureau:

Acupuncture for healing in border communities, By Molly Molloy, Latina Lista

East meets SouthWest, Las Cruces Bulletin story on Crossroads:

“The community trainer:  Making Acupuncture Accessible,” within “Untold Stories,” by Bonnie Koenig and Jason Stein.

Veterans Care Program

6 Dec

Our commitment to returning soldiers

Crossroads Acupuncture has long been committed to making healthcare affordable for veterans, with hundreds of soldiers who have benefitted from our Veteran’s Care Program.  We now are offering a few new programs available for military veterans to receive free care. Call us at 575-312-6569 to learn more!

How acupuncture can help veterans

Here are some of the common things that veterans come to Crossroads for care.

  •   Stress and sleep problems
  •   Pain from injuries & PTSD
  •   Nightmares, trauma, anxiety
  •   Migraines and Traumatic Brain Injury
  •   Addictions (pain meds, cigarettes)
  •   Depression

Did you know?

Acupuncture is recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs  and Dept of Defense as Evidence Based Medicine for PTSD.

But does acupuncture really work?

At Crossroads, our acupuncturist, Ryan Bemis, has many years of experience serving veterans and soldiers, including working with soldiers with PTSD and combat injuries/pain management at William Beaumont Army Medical Center.  Our clinic in Las Cruces has made it possible for veteran’s to receive regular care outside of the VA system.

Here’s a testimony from one of the veterans we have worked with in our community:

I came to Crossroads in the hope of helping a headache I had suffered with since 1989 and problems with my back since 1977. I had tried all the regular ways to get pain relief but they all came up short.  Now I am 6-7 weeks into treatment and I can honestly say that most of my days now are pain free.  This has made all the difference in the world.”

Donate and help provide care for veterans

One of the best ways you can help our program is to make  tax-deductible contribution to our non-profit organization will go directly towards another returning veteran being able to receive free care

Or you can donate online:

New Acupuncture clinic opens within FYI

18 Nov

Check out our new location on 1320 S. Solano!


New location at 1320 S. Solano at FYI

22 Oct

Moving our clinic

Due to an emergency, we will have to move our clinic this weekend, and we will re-open at a new location next week, at the corner of Solano and Idaho.  All services will continue at our University location through Friday 2/24.

More Parking, More convenient location!

We’ll be moving our clinic to a much more central location in the city, within the health center Families and Youth, INC.  There will be lots more parking than our current location on University has allowed for you as patients.  We know we know!  Parking was bad at University.  It will be much better at this new spot in town, right next to Hayden’s Hardware and across the street from Water King.  Look for the sign “Families and Youth, INC” and we will have our sign up right there!

Why move?

We believe that our new clinic location, within Families and Youth, INC (FYI) will allow our care to be more accessible to those who need acupuncture the most.  FYI is a regional leader in providing services for people in need,and we are grateful that they have given us a home within their home!

How to find us within FYI

When you enter our space at FYI there will be a large waiting area serving other programs as well.  Just let the receptionist know you are here for acupuncture, and they will check you in, and let me know you are here, after which I’ll come walk you back to our beautiful new treatment space.  If you get lost call 575-522-4004.


17 Aug
Appointments: 575-312-6569 or book online:
or book online: