The Medicine of Peace: How Herbs Can Be Used to Treat Stress, Pain and Trauma
Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) works throughout the US and internationally to bring trauma-informed, integrative health care to communities impacted by disaster, violence, climate change, poverty, and social injustice. We call AWB’s work the Medicine of Peace because cultivating peaceful, healthy communities is our overarching goal. We believe that trauma is often at the basis of human suffering, and that unless trauma cycles are interrupted and resolved at the personal, familial, community and global level, this suffering will continue unabated. Trauma healing helps people feel hopeful, resilient, and empowered.
AWB is committed to developing sustainable locally-based programs with community partners, like Mayway. We provide direct services when we work in a region without Asian medical resources, and we provide trauma-informed care TRAINING so that practitioners can offer care in their own communities, especially in this time of deep global challenge.
Because trauma is a dynamic physical or somatic condition that wreaks havoc with the brain, nervous system and metabolism, physical treatment is required to begin the healing process. Somatic treatments like acupuncture and herbal medicine help re-regulate the nervous system so that a person can emotionally process trauma. Otherwise, the person is “stuck” in flight, fright or freeze, which often leads to illness and disability over time.
While AWB has helped forge the use of community acupuncture for trauma reduction, we increasingly use Asian herbal medicine to enhance treatment. Trauma is often co-existent and inter-dynamic with pain and illness, especially when a person experiences chronic traumatic stress. Herbs work extremely well with acupuncture to resolve long-term trauma patterns, by calming the nervous system, supporting sleep, reducing stress and pain, and building metabolic resilience. At AWB we increasingly rely on herbs when working in our long-term trauma-informed care projects.
Mayway has been an amazing partner in this endeavor, by sponsoring our Community Service Clinic Program for many years, and donating significant amounts of herbal formulas to our projects in the US and abroad. In the past several years we have used herbal medicine in projects supporting:
- CA farm workers who grow over half the nation’s food
- The Navajo Nation, in partnership with Berkeley Community Acupuncture
- Wildfire survivors and first responders
- Veteran’s clinics
- Refugees and migrating people
- Essential, frontline workers and community activists
Recently, AWB took over a dozen huge crates of Mayway-donated herbal formulas to Tijuana, Mexico to augment the integrative herbal pharmacy at the Justica En Salud Clinic, which provides reproductive and pediatric health care to refugees from Haiti and Central America. Specifically, AWB works with the Parteras Midwifery Group at the clinic, which is sponsored by the Refugee Health Alliance. The clinic has a wonderful integrative pharmacy, including many indigenous herbs from Mexico and Central America. AWB has worked with the midwives since 2019, providing NADA ear acupuncture and Asian herbal medicine training at their request. We just completed organizing the Asian herb section of the pharmacy and trained the midwives to use about twenty primary herb formulas from the Bamboo Pharmacy line of Mayway products. Formulas such as Stress Support, Restful Sleep, and Immune Support are invaluable for this community and are very appreciated.
AWB has also expanded practitioner training to explore how herbs can be used to treat pain, stress, and trauma. We recently completed a 15-hour PDA course called Trauma Prevention & Recovery Protocols: Clinical toolkit for use in community and private practice which includes a detailed section on ten primary formulas that can be used when providing trauma-informed care.
Thank you Mayway - for your community partnership, generosity, and commitment to bringing Asian herbal medicine to so many people in need around the world. ~Carla Cassler, AWB
Carla Cassler has practiced acupuncture and Chinese medicine in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 35 years, specializing in women’s health, pediatric, orthopedic and trauma treatment. Her interest in trauma treatment began in l992 when she practiced acupuncture on an Israeli kibbutz, where many of her patients suffered from physical and mental health problems related to multiple wars and the Holocaust. For the past 10 years she has worked with Acupuncturists Without Borders, developing and coordinating trauma-healing programs in the US, Israel, Palestine, Puerto Rico, Greece and Mexico. She is part of the AWB leadership team and helps develop training courses to educate acupuncturists about trauma and trauma-informed care.