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Five Branches Clinic: Treating Pain with Acupuncture

There has been an epidemic in the world of pain relief, too many people are using opioids as pain relievers and there is a danger of forming a dependency on these opioids. But what exactly are opioids? Opioids are a class of drugs often used medically to treat pain. Medications that are considered opioids are hydrocodone, methadone(meth), oxycodone, morphine, and codine.
These are highly addictive substances and when patients cannot acquire opioid prescriptions for pain, they often resort to buying opioid drugs illegally because they are much less expensive.


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Careers Open to Acupuncturists: Newsletter, March 2021

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Many Careers are Open to Acupuncturists

Did you know there are a multitude of career opportunities for acupuncturists, including starting your own private practice, joining an integrative medical facility, getting hired at Kaiser or Sutter or Modern Acupuncture, getting hired at a spa or yoga studio, teaching at a university, working at an herbal dispensary, or even traveling the world to assist in dire situations for Acupuncturists Without Borders?

Our practitioners are equipped with paramount levels of education for acupuncture, herbal formulation, Chinese dietary advice, and even marketing skills, so you can get started on your career path right away.

We encourage you to consider what type of practice you might want to have once you are an acupuncturist (and keep in mind our DTCM/DAOM/Bridge Doctoral programs offer added benefits since employers often prefer more initials after your name)! Visit Paths to TCM for more information on the many different transformations your career can take, and has already taken our alumni.

Adding Healthy Oils to Your Diet Can Reduce Depression

In addition to acupuncture and herbs, what other measures can help us through the ‘winter blues’ as we also face an ongoing pandemic? One way is adding more healthy fats to your daily diet, and eating a wide variety of vegetables instead of sticking with the same few ones.

Dietetics research suggests that extra virgin olive oil and fish oils (heavily featured in the Mediterranean Diet) help combat depression, and the positive effects lasted longer if people also committed to eating many different types of greens, nuts, seeds, and beans (Parletta et. al. [2019] A Mediterranean-style dietary intervention supplemented with fish oil improves diet quality and mental health in people with depression, Nutritional Neuroscience, 22:7, 474-487).

In Traditional Chinese Medicine we say colloquially “Eat a rainbow every day,” which references a variety of plant sources. One possibility for a side dish is lightly steamed rainbow chard tossed with cold-pressed olive oil and sprinkled with diced olives (both black and green) and fresh basil.

A Special Point for Pregnancy Anxiety

The pandemic has made most aspects of life far more challenging, and heightened emotions expected with becoming pregnant may be even more complex right now. If you or a loved one is pregnant (the patient in this photo was three months along), consider acupressure for Pericardium 4.

Located between palmaris longus and flexor carpi radialis about five inches from the wrist, P4 helps alleviate depression, grief, and fear of people. Coronavirus has sparked additional worry during pregnancy, including transmissibility concerns and a lack of community support. Even the pandemic aside, anxiety is common during pregnancy but your doctor may caution against taking medications if possible.

When stressed, press and hold this point ten times in a row to increase circulation within the energy pathways; acupressure can also be used preventively first thing each morning to avoid developing the symptoms.

Education Continues: Newsletter, February 2021

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Education Continues During A Pandemic

Embracing the safety and the well-being of students and faculty in providing patient-care, education at FBU continues with high safety measures and careful adoption of various formats, including online education to achieve teaching objectives to promote upkeep of clinical skills and knowledge.

On February 21 at 2pm Pacific time, join us for

  • General information about the program
  • A graduate and a senior student testimonials
  • Clinic operation in light of the COVID-19 regulations
  • Small groups for Q & A

Spotlight on a Current Student: Frederica Crafts

Our current student Frederica has enjoyed giving free acupuncture at fairs, such as MLK Youth Day in January 2020, just prior to the pandemic temporarily halting our usual events where faculty and students assist underserved populations

At that event longtime professor Mariposa Bernstein had students set up a circle of chairs and treat patients with auricular (ear) points. Frederica says “This unique opportunity gave me the experience of working with a vast array of individuals, many of whom had never experienced the healing nature of acupuncture. It was wonderful to come together as a community and expose people to m odalities that they may never have the opportunity to experience.”

One of the rewards we can have as acupuncturists is a real-time view of the stress relief our treatments provide. The pace of modern life is extremely taxing. Frederica noticed that at the health fair, “Children were cared for, mothers were listened to and relieved, fathers shared healing time with their children. It was a day that has shown me just how important it is to participate in community gatherings.”

Five Branches is looking forward to getting back to our outreach programs which have always been lively and rewarding; for now, please stay safe and focus on cultivating daily routines that work best for your family.


Service Updates: Our Clinics Are Open

We offer affordable acupuncture at both our Santa Cruz and San Jose clinics, as well as virtual Telehealth sessions for those who wish to speak with their clinician from the comfort of their homes. To make an appointment please give us a call; unfortunately, we cannot accommodate walk-ins at this time. Below you will find our current hours and contact information:

Santa Cruz Clinic
200 7th Ave #115, Santa Cruz, CA 95062

(831) 476-9424| SC Clinic

Service Hours:
Monday 9:00am – 6:00pm
Tuesday 9:00am – 6:00pm
Wednesday 9:00am – 6:00pm
Thursday 9:00am – 5:00pm
Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday & Sunday Closed

San Jose Clinic
1885 Lundy Ave, San Jose, CA 95131

(408) 260-8868 | SJ Clinic

Service Hours:
Monday 9:00am – 7:30pm
Tuesday 9:00am – 5:00pm
Wednesday 9:00am – 7:30pm
Thursday 9:00am – 7:30pm
Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday & Sunday Closed

Giant Hot Pot Broth Being Made

Winter is upon us, and a cozy delicious soup you can enjoy is a traditional Chinese hot pot (made with beef tallow, vegetables, spices, herbs, beans, and so on) but you have never seen it cooked in a cauldron this big before! It is mesmerizing.

Notice the range of Chinese herbs from our pharmacopeia being added one by one. Each Chinese herb in a decoction, formula or stew has a specific function in our medicine, such as reducing blood pressure or assisting with weight loss!
Image Source




Newsletter & Happy New Year, January 2021

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New Year’s Resolution: Stress Less

This year as we celebrate switching over to 2021 with just our own company or with our small ‘pod’ of folks, let us try to bring in extra warmth and acceptance after a very difficult time. If you generally feel extra stress during darker and chillier months, consider adding these to your self-care regimen:
  • Rescue Remedy (available at health food stores) 10 drops daily in your water
  • Mint tea (known to acupuncturists as Bo He) each evening to help you sleep
  • Ginger tea (known as Sheng Jiang) every morning to warm hands and feet
  • Omega-3 oils such as DHA and EPA (found in fish oil capsules, or even better by eating salmon or mussels twice weekly) can protect against heart disease
  • Goji berries (known as Gou Qi Zi) in boiling water as a tea or baked in muffins

What Does the Yin-Yang Symbol Mean?

Spotted at a CA outdoor market: licensed acupuncturist and 2005 grad Erica Vessells, sporting a new pair of yin-yang earrings made by fair trade craftswomen in Bali. The yin-yang symbol has its roots in Chinese Taoism and represents how opposing forces are often beautifully interconnected. An analogy would be how day turns into night and night into day; one catches glimpses of each within the other. During twilight a spreading quietude and indigo enshrouds the world; at dawn, day is blossoming from within the night. The yin-yang is perhaps the most crucial symbol in all of Chinese medicine, representing ultimate balance and vitality.

Industry Update

The NCCAOM changed its policy on exam retakes; under new rules candidates can have more than 5 attempts IF they satisfy certain requirements (such factors include certification application validity and previous exams passed). Please see this post for more information.

A Message from the President & Dean

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” -Confucius

As we head into 2021, our thoughts are with those whose health has been affected by the pandemic, and the frontline workers who remain at risk every day. At Five Branches we switched to a virtual model immediately and continue to incorporate updates to virtual and hybrid teaching to keep students and patients safe. This year has been such a difficult time. Our students and faculty remain committed to the foundations of healing from five thousand years ago. We are working hard to spearhead best practices to face these challenges, and we wish you a better 2021.

-President Ron Zaidman & Dean Joanna Zhao

Newsletter & Seasonal Greetings, December 2020

Seasonal Greetings from Five Branches University

Chinese Medicine to Soothe COVID Anxiety

To put it mildly, 2020 has been a strange and challenging time for all of us here in the U.S. and around the world. One year ago scientists became aware of the first cases of the novel coronavirus, and the global infection rate led to so many months of isolation and permeating fear it is difficult to recall what life was like before. Remember you are not alone if you harbor a deep wariness from this pandemic. Hopefully your anxiety has decreased over time, while you have also stayed vigilant about prevention.

Early on it seemed we were all so anxious about catching Covid from doorknobs and countertops that it was practically debilitating. Of course, the silver lining is we have learned so much about Covid from both a Western and Chinese Medicine perspective. We know now the three W’s of Covid prevention: Wear masks, Wash hands, Watch distance. “But of the three, the most important is wearing a mask,” says UCSF infectious disease expert Peter Chin-Hong MD, who asserts by comparison cleaning your groceries or wiping your iPhone are “just distractors.[1]

So we have been masking and distancing and (hopefully) able to remain in acupuncture practice, and thankfully we now arrived at the crisp winter air and sentimentality of the holidays. But our celebrations still need to look different this year, whether with a very small ‘pod’ or completely virtual. The lack of community may be made worse by winter being the season of the Kidney Meridian and its associated emotion of fear.

Fortunately, Chinese Medicine is adept at treating many symptoms of not only Covid infection but the anxiety as well. Even though most of us are avoiding contracting Covid we are absolutely affected by the widespread anxiety within and of our families, coworkers, and on the news.

Here are excellent points to press on yourself or have your acupuncturist needle:

  • Pericardium 6 and Heart 7

Plus any of the following:

  • Bladder 11 & 20
  • Conception 6 & 17
  • Stomach 25 & 36
  • Liver 2

Spotlight on Graduates: Arcadia Farber LAc

Arcadia grew up in Marin County, CA, and from an early age was interested in artistic and creative pursuits. She graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a major in fine art and a minor in sociology, but her life was changed forever after a personal experience of healing from acupuncture.

The clarity and peace she found from those first acupuncture treatments amazed her, as did the versatility of this ancient science. Combining art and medicine suddenly seemed possible, and she enrolled at Five Branches to pursue a new path.

Now an acupuncturist and herbalist with more than a dozen years of private practice under her belt, Arcadia works in two offices in Marin; one is a shared clinic where she rents a room alongside several providers, and the other is an outdoor acupuncture cabana she conceived of when the pandemic hit.

Asked about her new open-air treatment space, she says she herself and also her patients love combining acupuncture with the gentle sounds of rustling wind and trilling birds all around them; a lesson in adaptability. Her words of wisdom for all of us in 2021 and especially to aspiring acupuncturists: “Stay creative.”

Holiday Goji Muffins (Gluten Free)

The famed Himalayan goji berry builds the Blood to increase circulation. From a Western perspective, “Many pharmacological functions related to the eyes, kidney, and liver particularly have been promoted by the consumption of goji berry.”[1] For this treat, whisk together then bake in a greased 12-muffin tin at 350 degrees for about 40 min:

  • 2 cups gluten free flour (such as Bob’s Red Mill GF 1-to-1 Baking Flour)
  • 6 oz dried goji berries (available at Whole Foods or Asian grocery stores)
  • 3 oz dried blueberries
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 8 oz maple syrup
  • 3 oz almond milk
  • 4 oz softened butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

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Happy Holidays!

This year has not been easy by any means, but we’re so grateful for you and our extended community of healers. Our deepest thanks for your continued support, and please stay safe. We look forward to welcoming you soon.

-Five Branches University

Faculty Snapshots

Selected from a community of prominent Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western medicine practitioners, teachers, authors and international lecturers in the United States, China and Taiwan, the faculty at FBU is dedicated to being at the forefront of teaching and provide a supportive learning environments, both in academic and clinical experiences for students to graduate as competent TCM practitioners.

Program: DTCM Trial Courses

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Anna Goldfarb, assistant professor at Five Branches University, is greatly valued for her passion in teaching students to become competent doctors in both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine. Her skillful integration of the two medicines allows patients to benefit from the best of both worlds.

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine? How does Acupuncture work? What does it mean to say that your body is your best doctor? Ching Ching Chi is a DAOM, Ph.D. Graduate of Zhejiang TCM University, and a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist in the state of California. Ching specializes in pain management, Diabetes and its complications, stroke rehabilitation, cancer care, and autoimmune diseases.

Did you know you can find medicinal herbs growing along the trails you hike? Engage in our community where common interests in herbal medicine and holistic lifestyles unite. Professor Pang has been a principal member of the Five Branches’ faculty since 1984. Professor Pang leads as Head of the Theory and Herbology Department and he reviews and develops the Chinese medicine curriculum at Five Branches.

Lucy Hu graduated from the Chinese Acupuncture Medical Institute of Hong Kong in 1982 with diplomas in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. With three decades of medical experience and specialization in pediatrics, professor Hu teaches in the departments of TCM Clinical Medicine and TCM Clinical Training in our DTCM/MTCM program. She is also a faculty member in our DAOM program.

Thomas Leichardt, L.Ac teaches medical qigong, energetic medicine, and core mysticism at Five Branches University,   while offering energetic healing sessions to his students and clients. He began his study and practice of medical qigong in 1999 and completed the highest level of training and certification from the International Institute of Medical Qigong at the Henan University of TCM in 2006.

A warm welcome to prospective students from our University President, Ron Zaidman. ” Education at Five Branches University prepares graduates for independent practice and a successful career. Chinese Medicine has gained an edge in the treatment of chronic health conditions where pharmaceutical and modern medicine have yet found a solution. “

Learn what’s vital for a successful treatment from George Lu. George interned at Shu Guan Hospital in Shanghai, China. He trained in Dr. Shi style Orthopedic Tuina along with other specialties including internal medicine, advanced acupuncture techniques, and gynecology. George has practised in Canada and Southern California, and opened his first clinic in Cupertino in 1995. He specializes in sports injury, Tuina, and fertility.

“If you know how Chinese Medicine is constructed, it is easier to develop it based on your own knowledge and clinical experiences.” Learn from Dr. Fengli Lan who has over 20 years of professional experience in Chinese Medicine, and published 24 books and numerous peer-reviewed journals.

The Charm of Our Santa Cruz Campus

Five Branches University has two campuses that lie about forty miles apart. The Santa Cruz Campus is located just a block from the ocean. It’s just a short walk to Twin Lakes State Beach. The San Jose Campus is in north San Jose, the largest city of the innovative Silicon Valley.

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We allow students to take classes at both campuses. This gives you a lot of flexibility as far as timing. If you need to work, and the class that you need is taught at the other campus at a better time that is more convenient for you, you can do it. It’s just that you need to declare a home campus and then you have to take the majority of your classes in that home campus. But if occasionally you need to take the class at the other campus, then you can definitely do that.”

Beyond the faculty, each location has its own unique charm. Despite being less than an hour’s drive apart, San Jose and Santa Cruz are two vastly different communities.  At the Santa Cruz campus, I would say the majority of our students are not local, they have a bachelor’s degree usually, or higher.” About half of the Santa Cruz students move to the area to study. Many are graduates of UC Santa Cruz. Others have family or friends in the area or vacationed there and have fond memories. They have diverse backgrounds such as massage therapists, yoga and martial arts practitioners, nurses and business majors.

“Santa Cruz is a nice place for someone who does not like a big city, that prefers to have more of a homey town, a small-town feel. It’s next to the ocean on the coast of Monterey. People who enjoy water sports will enjoy being so close to the ocean because, while cold, the coastline is easy to swim. The weather in Santa Cruz is relatively tepid for most of the year with only a few weeks of hot weather during the summer. If you come from an area that is cold and rainy or super humid, living here is a nice place for the years while you go through your education. Santa Cruz has a lot of draw from beyond that. It’s a community that loves spiritual growth.

There are personal growth types of events and seminars, a lot of health-oriented events, a wonderful farmers’ market, a lot of alternative health. Santa Cruz is very progressive. There are a lot of athletic things too, whether it is running, mountain biking, rock climbing, there are a lot of opportunities to participate in physical sports in Santa Cruz. From city & state parks to soccer pitches, outdoor basketball courts, and more.

“I have lived here for over 20 years. Even I just recently discovered that there is a huge park with cows roaming in the meadows in the middle of town. I didn’t even know that it existed and just by accident, I found out. Ariana Gulch. So nice! You can have a long trail, a picnic, so there are all these hidden gems in Santa Cruz.

Standing Together

Dear Five Branches University Colleagues 

In these uncertain times, our nation is faced with multiple crisis all at once. In the wake of George Floyds murder by Minneapolis police, there has been a worldwide outpouring of remorse and rage at the perpetuation of anti-Black violence and discrimination from all corners of American society and institutions. Coupled with the challenge of the global pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted the Black community in the United States, we are shocked. Five Branches University fully supports the Black Lives Matter movement. We demand changes for equal rights and justice. We need fundamental change in culture to manifest this. Continue reading »

Telemedicine Services

For Appointment setting, please

San Jose (408) 260-8868
Santa Cruz (831) 476-8211

9:30 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday
Or, We will Call You Upon Your Request:


We now offer Phone and Video Appointments.

  • Five Branches is expanding Telephone Appointments and Video Appointments
  • You can now LiveChat or phone call with our service staffs and practitioners
  • Please call our Call Center from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday. Phone numbers: Santa Cruz (831) 476-8211 or San Jose (408) 260-8868
    • If you are having a medical or psychiatric emergency, please dial 911 or go to the nearest hospital immediately.
    • Existing appointments may be rescheduled to telephone or video appointments
    • Both the private clinic and the teaching clinic are available with Telemedicine services.