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Needle in the haystack: NYC’s sliding-scale acupuncture center


Third Root in Ditmas Park is a long way from Capitol Hill in every sense. Especially in its community give-back spirit. A non-profit dedicated to being “a friendly and financially accessible wellness and healthcare resource,” Third Root is the only place we know that offers sliding scale acupuncture.

Acupuncture here runs you from $15 to $40, during Community Acupuncture hours. It’s not a temporary recession-era deal, explained one of the founders. “It’s honor system here year-round.” (You don’t have to produce pay stubs or prove unemployment, a la Ryan NENA Community Health Center.) The session resembles a typical New York needling in every way except one: No private room.

Seven practitioners, mostly graduates of the Pacific College in acupuncture and Chinese herbs, cooperatively run the holistic health center and yoga studio, which just celebrated its first anniversary. Five are acupuncturists; the others teach yoga and offer massage.

Community Acupuncture takes place in the street-front yoga studio, where a half-dozen folding chaise longes (surprisingly comfortable) are set up, and an excellent sound system plays pretty decent spa music. (More nature sounds than Enya.)

I’d braced myself for a gratingly earnest encounter that I associate with working a Park Slope Food Co-op shift, but it wasn’t necessary. The staff here wasn’t the least bit, well, uptight. I completed the standard health forms (am I often thirsty? can I feel my heart racing? does exercise make me feel more energized or less?), and, Julia, the acupuncturist-on-duty, asked me further questions in a chair-side whisper—the music sufficiently muffling our chat—before painlessly inserting the thin needles into my ankles, knees, and ears.

I didn’t feel like I was giving up much in exchange for my privacy at all. In fact, it felt like Shavasana or a group nap. The only drawback: the snorer in the chair beside me. Still, I got a top-dollar treatment for $40. And I’m sure I’m not the only person in the city who needs that.

Community Acupuncture, $15–40 (plus a one-time paperwork fee of $10), Third Root Community Health Center, 380 Marlborough Rd, at Cortelyou, Brooklyn, 718-940-9343, thirdroot.org

Know of any other top-notch places offering low-fee services, skin care, or bodywork? Tell us, here!