History of Community Acupuncture

What we now call “community acupuncture” originated with the Lincoln Acupuncture Detox Collective in New York City in the 1970s.

In 1970, community activists staged an occupation of Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx. The activists had a list of demands for improving care at Lincoln; one of them was a drug treatment program. As a result of the occupation, the Lincoln Acupuncture Detox Collective emerged as a pioneering program to use acupuncture to address the community’s healthcare needs.

To learn more:

Dope Is Death

“By the early 1970s, heroin was flooding the streets of New York City. Black and Puerto Rican neighbourhoods like Harlem and the South Bronx were hardest hit. This four part podcast series explores how Dr. Mutulu Shakur, stepfather of the late Tupac Shakur, along with members of the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords, combined community health with radical politics to create the first acupuncture detoxification program in America.”


In the Hands of the Revolutionaries and Communities: A Social History of Acupuncture (A Two-Part Video Series)

“Eana Meng is a historian of medicine and a physician in training. Her research has traced the lesser known histories of the use of acupuncture by American activists (including those in the Black revolutionary movement) since the 1970s and the legacies that emerge from them, which include a five point ear acupuncture protocol currently used around the world for substance use and behavior health conditions. She is interested in the histories that sit at the intersection of radical politics of health, integrative/alternative healing modalities, community healthcare, the opioid crisis and pain, and crucial dimensions of race, gender, and class.”


Acupuncture as Revolution – Suffering, Liberation, and Love

“Many in the global West have heard something about acupuncture as a treatment for pain relief; they may even have learned of its use in treating opioid addiction. But few know that, in the early 1970s, acupuncture was employed as a means of social and political revolution by Black, Latinx, and radical left-wing activists, inspired by the barefoot doctors of Mao Zedong’s Communist revolution.”