Acupuncture Blog

A Radical History of Acupuncture: The movie, the podcast and more

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Written by MAS staff acupuncturist, Elizabeth Ropp, LAc


Dear MAS Community,

I've been waiting for two years for Mia Donovan's film Dope is Death to be released. It is available for online streaming starting November 11 through November 19. It’s cheap. Sign up today. I did. When I saw it in July I paid twice as much to stream it, a decision that I have zero regrets about, by the way. This documentary is that good.

With blight ravaging New York City in the 1970s, the Young Lords and Black Panthers fought for radical change in their communities. Through the leadership of Dr. Mutulu Shakur—Tupac Shakur’s stepfather—these activists created the first acupuncture detoxification program in the United States. While the legacy of the program has long been maintained by the residents of the Bronx and Upper Manhattan, the individuals responsible for its creation have suffered from decades of state-sanctioned persecution.

Mia Donovan also put out the Dope is Death podcast. I listened to one episode this afternoon and I am hooked.

At MAS, we’ve known about the history of ear acupuncture for some time. If you’ve been with us for a while, you might have picked up a copy of the Radical History of Acupuncture in America. Our friend and colleague, Greg Jones from St. Pete Community Acupuncture, wrote it.

We recently shared some fantastic acupuncture videos created by Harvard researcher, Eana Meng. Her videos are still available on The Harvard Asia Center website.

I met Eana in the fall of 2018. I was running a free weekly ear acupuncture clinic at Hope for New Hampshire Recovery. She was writing her senior thesis about acupuncture and the opioid epidemic. I gave her a copy of The Radical History of Acupuncture in America. Our meeting shifted her research. She narrowed the focus of her work to ear acupuncture and it's global transmission as a kind of "First Aid." First aid is the keyword. Lay practitioners can also practice it.

Meng's and Donovan's work gives me a long-awaited sense of relief. Community Acupuncturists have shared this history in our communities for many years. I am happy that this history is now becoming more well known. “Each one, reach one. Each one, teach one.”

Check out the videos. Listen to the podcast. Join us for a collective (socially distanced) film screening of Dope is Death this November.

All power to all people.



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