Podcast interview with Russell Brown

This is one of my all-time favorite conversations with an acupuncturist… maybe ever, lol…? Russell is poetic, magnetic, and inspiring yet humble, all at the same time. And really thought-provoking.

Acupuncturist interview with Russell Brown

“What we’re really treating and why we owe it to our forbearers to embrace social activism…” Russell Brown is the poetic and much-loved acupuncturist behind Poke Acupuncture in LA.

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Russell Brown is the much-loved acupuncturist behind Poke Acupuncture in LA. You may have seen his hand-written, beautifully crafted, point prescriptions.

In this interview, he shares a glimpse into his practice and approach, the deep ways he likes to work with patients. what we really mean when we talk about “stress”, what being an acupuncturist means to him, why it’s so important we acupuncturists reflect on racism, and our role in social activism.

Here are some of my favorite quotes of his from our conversation: 

“Can we just acknowledge that when we talk about ‘stress’ or anxiety, we’re talking about capitalism, we’re talking about patriarchy, we’re talking about white supremacy? I at least want that to be part of the conversation. I feel like as acupuncturists we’re trained to not speak about these things and don’t really know why we’ve decided that that’s the case when it’s so pertinent.”


“I think that one of the skills we pick up as practitioners is how you embody what each patient needs from you.”


“Being an acupuncturist is really a way for me to pay attention to the world, and it gives me not only a way to pay attention but also a language for the things I’ve paid attention to… And if I can bring that understanding and that context to a patient, I really think that that’s where the healing happens.”


“The acupuncture points are not remote control buttons. They don’t turn things on and turn things off. They’re metaphors, they’re stories, each needle is a poem.”


“Everyone thinks the goal is to be busy and see a lot of patients, but it’s a muscle and if you don’t build up the muscle for the capacity for that then you’re in trouble”.


“There is a reason the 5 elements lasted as long as they did.”


“Even the binary of east vs west is based in colonialism.”


“I didn’t know that things I used to say earlier in my career were problematic and based in racism, but they were and I know that now and I have to look at that. And I hope that we’re all reflecting on those things.”


“Our businesses were given to us by Chinese immigrants, and social activism: we owe them that.”

Connect with Russell: 

Poke Acupuncture




Hi! I'm Katie Altneu

I'm an acupuncturist, herbalist, & business teacher

My acupuncture clinic in Denver, CO makes me so happy. It's full enough to support my life, and simple enough to give me peace of mind. I'm a firm believer that bigger is not always better and that we need to "stop the glorification of busy".

I want your acupuncture clinic to be as full as you'd like it to be. I want you to know how to inspire-to-action the people who need you and our medicine. And I believe the best strategies are simple and heartfelt.

Combining my prior education & career in business & finance with my personal experience starting and growing my clinic, I love teaching acupuncturists to master the business side of their clinics. I believe in you and I'm so glad you're here!

Katie Altneu, creator of AcuProsper & the ProsperRing

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