When I opened Kama'aina Acupuncture in 2009 there was a need for an acupuncture clinic in Honolulu that was dedicated to being affordable and accessible to as many people as possible. Community acupuncture was the solution to being able to accommodate more people's needs. In this style, the treatments we provide are offered in a relaxed and friendly environment with an affordable sliding-scale payment. Flexibility is a hallmark of traditional Chinese medicine and we aim to fulfill that legacy for the community of Honolulu and beyond.
When you come to Kama'aina Acupuncture it's about you. I designed the clinic to be a place where you could get help understanding your health issues, and get effective treatment options. We do our best to offer simple, down-to-earth guidance and expertise. Our aim is to use our skills to help you through whatever health or life stage you are going through, whether a simple case of back pain after surfing, stressful finals at school, or when life in Honolulu has given you more challenges than you feel you can manage. The youngest we've treated is 2 years old for a 5-week cough that resolved within 2 days. The oldest we've had is 94 years old with chronic back pain. This is just a small sample of what we do for thousands of people each year, and we look forward to continuing to do more in the future.
Please look around here for more information and if there are more questions please feel free to reach out to us by phone or email. And if you're ready to see us for an appointment we look forward to meeting you soon.
Joe Bright, L.Ac.
Joe Bright, MSTCM, L.Ac.
Joe founded Kama'aina Acupuncture in Hawai'i in 2009. Raised in Kailua, he graduated from Iolani School in Honolulu, and found himself in New York City where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1993 from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Arts and Science. He started his acupuncture and pulse reading training under his tai chi teacher in New York, Dr. Mou Chuan Jing, and eventually went on to his Masters in TCM in San Francisco at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. After school, he remained in San Francisco and mentored under various doctors with specialties in skin diseases, tuina and pain management, and mental-emotional disorders. Joe also worked for several years in the Chinese herb industry, including running his own small company that focused on organic herb sourcing. Now with Kama'aina Acupuncture firmly established as a community resource, Joe continues the tradition of helping people as best as he can, as his teachers all have for generations. He balances his time in the clinic with teaching at the Institute of Clinical Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine here in Chinatown, Honolulu, leading weekly vipassana (mindfulness) meditation, as well as his pursuits in the arts of painting and calligraphy.
Brandon Flewelling, MSTCM, L.Ac.
Brandon studied acupuncture in Honolulu, Hawai'i at the Institute of Clinical Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. After graduating in 2012 he began doing travelling acupuncture around the island. After meeting with and studying under Joe Bright, he began working at Kama'aina Acupuncture clinic in 2013. Brandon grew up in New York and obtained a B.A. in Psychology. Initially he moved to California and then eventually Hawai'i. Cooking and restaurant management are part of his background as he developed his interests in Eastern spiritual thought and helping others. Experiencing acupuncture for the first time was unlike anything else before in the way it incorporated the mind, body, and spirit all together, and it helped define the path he's been on ever since. Brandon spends his time playing competitive tennis, practicing meditation, and enjoying the outdoors.
Tai Hawkins, MSTCM, L.Ac.
Tai studied acupuncture in Honolulu, Hawai'i at the Institute of Clinical Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine where she first met Joe and began studying classic Chinese medical texts. She has also been a licensed massage therapist for over 10 years. Her areas of interest include musculoskeletal issues, women's health, stress management, and herbal medicine. Tai graduated with a BA in Cultural and Social Anthropology and a minor in Dance from Stanford University. She now performs and teaches dance throughout the islands. Born and raised in Kailua, Hawai'i, Tai also loves the ocean and has paddled for many years.
Alicia Yang, MSTCM, L.Ac.
Alicia studied acupuncture in Honolulu, Hawai’i from the Institute of Clinical Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, where she studied the classic texts of Chinese medicine and completed her externship with Joe. As a childhood cancer survivor Chinese medicine was an integral part of how her family confronted illnesses. Alicia’s background comes through a passion for social justice work with diverse communities including incarcerated youth and adults, immigrant and low-income communities, youth of color facing challenges of race, poverty, education, and violence. Moving to Hawai’i, Alicia studied Chinese medicine while she worked alongside communities for the prevention of domestic violence. In 2014 Alicia worked alongside Acupuncturists Without Borders to set up a free disaster-relief clinic for the people of Puna, Hawai’i. Alicia also holds a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and a M.Ed. from Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Ryoko Ito, MSTCM, L.Ac.
Ryoko studied acupuncture in Honolulu, Hawai’i from the Institute of Clinical Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She studied the classic texts of Chinese medicine with Joe and has worked as one of his assistants at the clinic since 2014. After graduating from high school in Japan, she moved to the U.S. and received a BS in Biology with a minor in Botany from Humboldt State University in California. After moving to the Big Island she started studying at the Traditional Chinese Medical College of Hawaii, and in 2012 transferred to ICAOM to complete her studies. Ryoko has a profound love for the ocean and the islands of Hawai’I, which she has considered home since 2008. The islands have been her inspiration to learn about the nature of healing, develop her healing touch, and how best to guide every patient’s unique physical and emotional journey. She is also passionate about surfing and dancing hula.
"I love that Kama'aina acupuncture makes this healing practice accessible to those who normally cannot afford it." -- Marvin
"It's awesome that you can get quality treatments that are affordable! I am and will remain a huge fan!" – Susan
"I highly recommend this place if you're looking for a casual, open, and positive place for treatment." -- Ivy
"Kama'aina Acupuncture has been instrumental in my path toward health. Not only with acupuncture, but with nutritional recommendations & herbal supplements." -- Debra
"Kama'aina Acupuncture has made a believer out of me…if you have nerve problems, acne, cramps, psoriasis, etc., I'd definitely recommend visiting Kama'aina Acupuncture." -- Melissa
"Kama'aina Acupuncture is amazing. If it's your first time or your millionth time, you won't be disappointed!" -- Kasey
"I am a HUUUUUUUUGE fan of Kama'aina Acupuncture… I literally hobbled in at a 90-degree angle with a severe pinched nerve with pain shooting up my back… and voila! An hour and a half later, I walked out straight!" – Susan
"I went about once a week to about once every other week for 5 months.... and guess what...I got pregnant! I'm holding my little 10 week old little girl as I write this...haha" – L.L.
"It's so nice to have a Friday appointment after work to get "Powered Off!" I am able to completely relax, and shut down for the weekend. De-stress and come out of there feeling amazing." -- Kalei
"Very laid back and non-intimidating. I highly recommend Kama'aina Acupuncture!!!!" -- Nam
"The place is clean, bright, and calming. It's cozy yet professional." -- Carolyn
"I'm so happy I found Kama'aina Acupuncture! I have such a fear of needles but it really is a wonderful and calming experience." – Cindy
"I am so grateful that Kama'aina Acupuncture exists. Everything here is great; quality care, clean facilities, and best of all, it's affordable." -- Jessica
Our services are on a sliding scale from $20-45 per treatment. You choose how much you pay, or can afford. The sliding scale is for all local residents and visitors to Hawai'i. There is an additional $10 intake-consultation fee for the first visit. We can in certain circumstances waive this fee if you are a student or in financial difficulty. Just let us know.
We currently accept cash, checks, or credit cards for payment. If you prefer a Paypal payment just let us know and we can work that out with you. We don't do insurance billing, and you can read more about why in the FAQ section.
Do acupuncture needles hurt?
We're never sure how to answer this question. Especially when its being asked by someone with a body covered in tattoos (hours and hours worth of needles scraping across skin), or someone who's been in crippling pain for several days if not longer. We do get it that what everyone is actually asking is whether or not acupuncture feels like getting shots and blood tests. In other words is it as horrible as hypodermic needles in a doctor's office. The short answer is NO; it's nothing like the feeling of getting shots or blood taken. Here's the sentiment from one of our Yelp reviewers: "NOTE - IF YOU HAVE FEARS OF NEEDLES: Don't be scared of the needles, they are super thin and have nothing to do with the ones from docs and labs etc."
However, in truth the answer is variable as everyone has a vastly different body sense as well as different conditions. The general range of needling sensations is from a light to heavy pressure, tingles, tickles, a sense of "energy moving," a slight ache in a muscle area, to nothing at all. All of these can signify when an acupuncture point becomes active, or functional. But like turning on a switch once, generally these sensations dissipate after a few moments and the rest of the time people get to relax as much as they can.
We are highly skilled, but no one is perfect. We don't have x-ray vision to see every pain receptor in the skin. Of the thousands of people we see every year nobody has fainted yet from our work or from their own nervousness. But definitely tell us when you feel anxious so we can help you through it slowly and safely. And to quote one man who was nervous, after his first needles he said: "Wow! This is great. I can't believe I waited so long to do this!"
Can acupuncture help with _____________?
Back pain? Acne? Headaches? Anxiety? This list goes on for awhile, so consider one simple factor: the written history of traditional Chinese medicine, of which acupuncture is one component, is about 2600 years old; That's the first, oldest still-existing text on Chinese medical theory and treatment (No one really knows how long before this book the actual practices stretch). So then consider that modern medicine stretches back roughly 150-200 years. That means that acupuncture was a primary care method for at least one culture for a heck of a long time. And since China continues to be one of the most populous nations on the earth, something must have been working all along.
So you name it and likely we've seen it here at Kama'aina Acupuncture. Naturally some things are simpler to treat, and some more complex or plain stubborn. Factors like stress, normal body constitution, lifestyle, etc., can all impact our work in helping you through. But our youngest patient has been 2 years old, and the oldest 95. And so far we have been very successful in may areas of pain management, skin conditions, stress related conditions, fertility and more. So if you want us to see what we can do for you please feel free to just check in with us.
I thought you were going to be an old Chinese guy?
It's true that, at least in this life, I/we are haole folks. And as our reputation grows naturally people expect that only a mystical old Chinese dude on a mountain can possess such magical abilities. Fortunately for us, and you, Chinese medicine is like many other systems in the world that understand the body according to observations of certain patterns of symptoms and conditions. Granted the patterns and diagnosis can sound different than western medical terminology, but we're still looking at the human body. And since we all eat and relieve ourselves the same way the world over, we're able to be really, really good at what we do. We've even successfully treated real Chinese people, although sometimes even they're really surprised at our skill level.
"Joe is great! Good needling and great disposition. I had a really nice experience at Kama'aina Acupuncture and will definitely return." – Meixing
I can pay what I wish? Really? You won't just use fewer needles if I pay less?
Yes, you really can pay what you can afford. Our scale is from $20-45 per treatment. We welcome local residents and visitors on vacation to Hawai'i to use this system as they need. We won't look at you in a funny way or demand income statements as proof, or even do "less" of a treatment. There are many options for acupuncture in Hawai'i, but there was a gap that we felt we could fill by offering flexibility to our community. If we appreciate flexibility it just seemed logical that we could extend the same to you. So we do what we can, in as many ways as we can, as often as we can (through extended hours), for as many people as we can. And through it all we leave your financial needs up to you to decide. Granted the first session we charge an additional $10 intake-consultation fee, but if you are in difficulty let us know and we can waive it for you.
"Oh yeah, the PAYMENT! It's what YOU CAN PAY: $20 - $45. What!? It's up to YOU to give what you want. You'll find the right price for you. Karma baby!" -- Amy
Do you accept insurance at Kama'aina Acupuncture?
Unfortunately we don't do any insurance billing for a few reasons. We are a small clinic and don't have a reception staff. Though there are various acupuncture students who may help us out from time to time we keep things simple. That means that we spend our time focused on patient treatments and not on paperwork. This also means that we can keep our sliding scale payments affordable. If we were to have someone spend the extended time to do billing paperwork, then we'd have to have a significant payroll that naturally would mean increasing our fees.
And at this time, unfortunately, the insurance re-imbursements can be sketchy to collect on. Even though many plans are starting to offer some coverage there is a significant gap in what many companies think is "necessary" treatment that they'll cover. Also, there's a small hitch in how we offer our payments. Insurance companies don't like the sliding scale. They would allow us to have a single published rate, and offer a single published "cash discount" that is the same for everyone. But you choosing how much you pay? No way! So regrettably the best we can do is to provide a receipt and you can submit directly. We do know that some people's plans are willing to reimburse you directly, but you'll need to check with them directly on that.
What is the community acupuncture experience all about?
Community acupuncture is a trend drawing from some great traditions in China as well as some of the low-cost clinics that popped up in the 70's and 80's in New York and San Francisco, though some of the modern movement has sprouted from the Portland area. Specifically community acupuncture means one open treatment area where several people are receiving treatment at the same time. Appointments are staggered so some people are comfortably resting with their needles while new people are arriving in the waiting area.
But it also refers to an approach that builds on affordability, simplicity, and building community. The first of these certainly draws the most attention in the modern economics of healthcare. However, we like the third the most, because we like to think of the people that come through our door as part of our community, or ‘ohana. And it's to this community that affordability and simplicity are in service to. We feel we are members of this ‘ohana as much as our patients are.
Is community acupuncture for everyone?
Probably not, and we understand that. We do have limitations on what we can offer by opening our doors to a large community. Yet even though we can't offer separate private rooms for people to rest in, the vast majority of our patients still feel that our space is both relaxing and intimate enough for their satisfaction. But it's also this larger approach that allows us to keep treatments affordable for everyone. We don't have a receptionist or a large staff, although you're likely to see one of many students volunteering in the clinic. It's also likely that the actual practitioners will be answering the phones, so we hope everyone can be patient with us.
Follow up question: What is the space like?
Our treatment space has 3 comfortable reclining chairs, and 2 standard massage tables. We keep things tidy and simple. It is a smaller space than you might find on the mainland, but that's just the nature of Honolulu where space is at a premium. But we have a great view of the mountains and often afternoon rainbows grace the skies. Most people fall asleep during treatment, though some will just ponder the clouds and mountains. If it helps feel free to bring your own sunglasses or iPods with your own music selection if you think that will help you chill out some more.
Do I have to be naked during treatment?
We certainly hope not!! Loose comfortable clothing and bathing suits usually give us all the room we need. However, we also keep plenty of sheets on hand for extra draping if needed.
Are herbal medicines safe to use?
Yes, when being guided by a skilled herbalist. There is a vast difference between a thoughtfully prescribed and/or prepared herbal formula and consuming a handful of random "supplements," many of which might not be used in combinations in traditional medicine usage. What we do has historical precedence and a growing body of modern scientific knowledge behind it. Even if there are questions of interactions with medications we're trained to know when to use and when to hold off.
Regrettably, the whole of the supplements industry covers an enormous range of large and small companies making various products targeting consumer's interest in "natural" medicines. Chinese herbal medicines are just a small corner of that industry, generally run by herbalists. Unfortunately this doesn't mean that there isn't a huge amount of problematic products being put out by indiscriminant people. Most of the really bad and dangerous ones target weight loss, energy boosts, and sexual enhancements in a "one size fits all" kind of approach. To combat these products alongside agencies like the USDA and FDA, organizations such as the American Herbal Product Association help guide and represent responsible companies to both consumers and government agencies. If you have questions you might look there for additional resources.
Can acupuncture help in emergencies?
That depends on what the emergency is. If there is any doubt in our minds about the severity of a condition, we will always recommend you see your primary care physician, or visit the emergency room, right away. That being said, if your emergency is throwing your back out in some awesome Hawai'i surf, then yes, we can probably help. If you've caught a cold, or laryngitis, and you have to sing at your wedding in a few days (True story there!!!), then we might be able to get your octaves going again. So feel free to call us and ask what we think, but remember, we can't see or feel anything over the phone. So we'll need to see you in person to evaluate if there's something we can do, or if you need to see your doctor or another specialist of some kind.
Do you do massage at Kama'aina Acupuncture?
Yes, and no. We are not set up to provide full-length hour+ massage services. For that we have people that we can refer you to if you need it. However, we do utilize a traditional Chinese massage technique called "tuina." The word translates as "push-pull" and is a fairly vigorous style of bodywork used specifically when people come in with injuries and pain management situations. Generally the work will just be several minutes of massage after the primary treatment of acupuncture or cupping. And though it can be effective the situation may not require it.
Do you offer spa treatments, or facials at Kama'aina Acupuncture?
We don't. There are many places in Hawai'i that provide spa services to residents and visitors alike. And there are even acupuncture clinics that provide aesthetician services that might even include facial acupuncture. Generally these therapies are more premium services. For us we try to keep it simple and affordable, and though we offer a well-rounded range of skills and services, these are out of our scope of practice.
Whether you're a local resident of Hawai'i or a visitor on vacation, we're here to provide support for you. Appointments may be preferable for advanced planning and can be taken by phone or email. However, we can take walk-in treatments much of the time as well. Some days are busier than others, so please be patient, as you may have to wait an extra few minutes.
3121 Mokihana St
Honolulu, HI 96816
3121 Mokihana St
Honolulu, HI 96816
Zoom in and out on this Honolulu map for our location, or to get more detailed driving instructions as needed. If you're new to Hawai'i and need help just give us a call. We know the street names in Honolulu can be challenging for people on vacation. We're actually very easy to find and we have free parking right in front of our building. Please note that we share parking with Waiola Shave Ice, so during summertime things can be a bit busier as beachgoers cool off. But be patient and cars will come and go. You're in Hawai'i, so might as well relax!
Kama'aina Acupuncture is one of the most popular acupuncture clinics in Honolulu. Located in the busy Kapahulu-Kaimuki area, just outside of Waikiki, Kama'aina Acupuncture was founded as a flexible and affordable service for the local community and visitors alike. We offer a setting for people of all means to have access to simple, down-to-earth guidance and expertise in a full range of Chinese medicine skills. This includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, tuina (Chinese therapeutic massage), as well as dietary and lifestyle consultations. Come in today and let us know how we can help you. More...
"When I walked into the serene and welcoming space … I felt instantly calmed and more mindful of the importance of making time to take care of my health." -- Lika
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3121 Mokihana Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96816
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3121 Mokihana St
Honolulu, HI 96816