One of my most favorite areas of Honolulu is Chinatown. When I was in high school I would go to Chinatown on Saturday to buy fabric. There were the best fabric stores and you could get three yards for one dollar.

Yesterday I went to Chinatown for another reason. Acupunture! I have osteoarthritis in my knees and this method of pain treatment seems to help the symtoms.

Acupunture is not a cure, but for pain it can offer some relief.


A system of complementary medicine that involves pricking the skin or tissues with needles, used to alleviate pain and to treat various physical, mental, and emotional conditions. Originating in ancient China, acupuncture is now widely practiced in the West.

There are about one hundred acupuncturists in Honolulu. I really didn’t know where to begin, so I asked the perfect person, my Vietnamese manicurist.

I called to make an appointment and easily found the shop. (Not so easy to find a parking place in Chinatown on a Saturday.)

The shop is a Chinese herbal shop with a huge variety of Chinese herbs. Dr. Wong is also an herbalist. He learned from his father in China but said he is the last in his family to do this. His son wants to be a lawyer.

Dr. Wong was very pleasant. Also very thorough and sanitary. (Disposable needles of course and immaculate treatment room). Before we got started he took my medical history and my blood pressure.

The treatment started out with my lower back being treated for pain. I have disc problems and this seemed to take some of the pressure off my spine. He followed up the needle part with a brisk massage.

Then for the knees. Needles in knees, ankles and feet. A heat lamp to heat up the needles. And then a brisk massage with Chinese herbal oil.

The needles don’t hurt going in. But you have to lie very still. My first treatment seemed to ‘fix’ my problem for about a week. Hopefully, the second one will last a little longer.

The best part is that the office is right next door to a great outdoor fruit and vegetable market and is the best place in Honolulu to buy bananas, garlic, ginger and papaya.

There is also a fish market with very fresh looking whole fish of every variety. Right behind the fish market is a chicken vendor, with very white fresh looking chickens. Some were cut up and some were whole.

Next to the fish market is a pork market, with a huge variety of pork. Right in the front was a huge pigs head complete with a smile and sparkling eyes. Real of course. I wonder if it was just for show, or if someone actually buys this.

Also in the same neighborhood are many wonderful Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants. My favorite lunch is dim sum. These are little baskets of steamed dumplings stuffed with shrimp and pork. In Chinatown each basket of three pieces is only $1.98 and two baskets makes a nice lunch.

After lunch a stroll through the Maunakea Marketplace was in order. This is a great shopping delight. The merchandise consists of clothing, purses, sunglasses, brocade accessories, music and jewelry. All in all I would have to give this whole Chinatown experience a perfect ten.


Acupuncture is an alternative medicine that treats patients by insertion and manipulation of needles in the body. Its proponents variously claim that it relieves pain, treats infertility, treats disease, prevents disease, or promotes general health.[1] The earliest written record of acupuncture is found in the Huangdi Neijing (黄帝内经; translated as The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon), dated approximately 200 BCE.[2] Acupuncture typically incorporates traditional Chinese medicine as an integral part of its practice and theory. However, many practitioners consider ‘Traditional Chinese Medicine’ (TCM) to narrowly refer to modern mainland Chinese practice.[3] Acupuncture in Japan and Korea, and to a certain extent Taiwan, diverged from mainland China in theory and practice. In European countries such as the UK almost half the practitioners follow these non-TCM practices.[4] The most notable difference is that these other approaches often are primarily acupuncture, and do not incorporate Chinese herbal medicine. The term “acupuncture” is sometimes used to refer to insertion of needles at points other than traditional ones, or to applying an electric current to needles in acupuncture points.[5][6] Different variations of acupuncture are practiced and taught throughout the world.[7]

The evidence for acupuncture’s effectiveness for anything but the relief of some types of pain and nausea has not been established.[8][9][10][11][12] In the case of nausea, systematic reviews have concluded that acupuncture is no more effective than nonpenetrating stimulation of one point to reduce some types of nausea.[13] Although evidence exists for a very small and short-lived effect on some types of pain, several review articles discussing the effectiveness of acupuncture have concluded it is possible to explain this as a placebo effect.[9][14][15] A 2011 review of review articles concluded that, except for neck pain, acupuncture was of doubtful efficacy in the treatment of pain and accompanied by small but serious risks and adverse effects including death, particularly when performed by untrained practitioners.[12] There is general agreement that acupuncture is safe when administered by well-trained practitioners using sterile needles.[16][17][18][19]