Low-cost alternative healthcare in OB: more than a trend – SD News 2014


One of the many benefits of living in Ocean Beach is the presence of alternative healthcare — and at a reasonable price. This is also true of San Diego at large.

“A trend in medicine in general,” according to Donald Phillips, a faculty member of Pacific School of Oriental Medicine, “is toward integrative healthcare that pairs Western medicine with alternative health-care practitioners.”

While some practitioners offer private room sessions with their low-cost services, others provide a community-style space where clients receive treatment together.

Obecian Mercy Baron has experienced this community-style setting.

“When you are all in one room, it makes it easier for the facilitator to check on how everyone is doing, rather than going from room to room,” said Baron. “Everyone is very quiet because they want you to relax, and some even fall asleep. Even when the acupuncturist is doing their thing, they talk quietly, almost in a whisper.”

Whether you prefer a private or community setting, there are several options to explore.


Aquilino Soriano said his clinic does have set prices and that he will personally work with people on a sliding scale or payment plan. He said he also believes in the barter system and is open to discussing what people have to offer in exchange for treatment.

“I want to help as many people as I can,” he said. “There’s a definite need and I want to fill that void when I can, whether it’s seniors, unemployed, single moms and so forth.”

• 1804 Cable St., (619) 243-5109;



“Since we opened in 2009, we’ve been offering $20 acupuncture treatments for everyone, every day, for five years — a total of 45,000 treatments,” said owner Nicole Murray. “We are also a member clinic of the multi-stakeholder cooperative organization called the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture. The most recent survey of member clinics showed that we collectively provided more than 900,000 treatments in 2013. We are excited to be a part of the growing movement for low-cost alternative healthcare.”

She said her clinic provides a community setting with “eight reclining chairs and a lovely, bright, friendly space. Acupuncture is most effective when prescribed more frequently. It’s common to have people come multiple times a week, or even daily, to see a significant change in the condition. The more affordable fee makes this possible for more people.”

• 4993 Niagara Ave., Suite 206, (619) 224-2442, beachacu.com.


Laura Pallesen, who owns The Balanced Bear chiropractic office in Ocean Beach, wants her services to be accessible.

“I offer great prices and memberships, usually better than what people pay with insurance,” she said.

On Mondays and Thursdays, Pallesen volunteers for the nonprofit Alternative Healing Network, where she provides treatments on a sliding scale.

• 4966 Santa Monica Ave., Suite H, (619) 567-7005, thebalancedbear.com.


The Alternative Healing Network, which was founded by Ryan Altman, offers a variety of integrative services that combine Western and Eastern treatment modalities. In addition to the Adams Avenue Integrative Health Center, it has a center in La Mesa.

The network has free community outreach clinics and offers sliding-scale treatments for the entire family in a community-style environment.

• 3239 Adams Ave., (619) 546-5326, althealnet.org.


“Our faculty have 10- to 20-plus years of experience, and students come from a variety of backgrounds, often with skills beyond that which is taught at PCOM,” said Phillips. “Students and faculty have resources available to them that may be cost prohibitive in private practice. The cost of treatment at PCOM is moderate compared to privately licensed acupuncturists, which usually charge $60 and above.”

Philips said clients have two choices “between a student intern with an assistant or two and a supervisor with whom they consult or a licensed practitioner with a team of students assisting them. Because this is a learning environment, students will be present at all treatments.”

PCOM uses a community-room environment with curtains to create semi-private space, according to Philips.

• 7445 Mission Valley Road, Suite 105, (619) 574-6932; www.pacificcollege.edu.

Read more: San Diego Community News Group – Low cost alternative healthcare in OB more than a trend

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