Karen Marrero Chong (New York City, NY)

Karen is a healer working through the framework of Chinese Medicine and is a licensed Acupuncturist in New York State. She works with medicinal plants, essential oils, stones and a few other integrative therapies.

How did you come to be trained in the NADA protocol?

I originally was trained in the NADA protocol in Lincoln Hospital around 2008. At that time, I was also formally studying Acupuncture under Jeffrey Yuen’s Classical Chinese Medicine Acupuncture program that was offered through the Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences. Before acupuncture school, I actually started learning about the use of acupuncture points in conjunction with Essential Oils though an amazing advanced Continuing Education class that was being offered in Chinatown.

I remember being fascinated when I first heard in acupuncture school something about the NADA protocol and the points on the ears…so I went off to the Bronx to Lincoln Hospital to learn about that because it was something I felt I could immediately start integrating into the work I already did.

At the time, I had already been using essential oils and herbs in my practice for about 10 years—which at the time was focused more on the practice of Polarity Therapy.

How did you come to healing work?

I recall being 15 years old when I realized for the sake of my own independence that to heal myself and to help those around me, that I must learn everything I can about health and healing.

As time went on, I did a lot of studies in the alternative health fields, however, it was always for self-knowledge and I never thought of it as a ‘profession’. These studies slowly became a body of knowledge that became useful in many ways and for many people.

This increasing fascination with these studies took me to different countries, to different places and even in some ways became part of my life as I went more into the study of medicinal plants. Synchronicities had it that I found work at the Bronx Botanical Garden where I was assigned to the Ethnobotanical Garden and I was lucky to intern there with a lady who loved plants and the way humans use them (basically the study of Ethnobotany). Her name was Lisa Cady and we labored really hard in that garden with hundreds of plants, more so than was expected of us and I honestly loved every minute of toiling in the plant world with its myriads form of life and their uses. Life continued on and I was also involved in immigrant rights, human rights, indigenous and environmental issues, really through no seeking of my own, but because as the daughter of immigrant parents and having close connection to my mother’s home country (Ecuador) that simply was the situation that life had for me. It was a reality that I had in my destiny and a choice I made many times to not close my eyes…

At some point in my life, it was encouraged of me to study healing formally and I did this so I could better help others. I continue to do this work because I see there is such a need in this world for good health care that is holistic. Health care that takes into account the various aspects of what being a human being is which includes spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical aspects and at the same time as we move through these dimensions of time and space. 

Where is your healing work currently?

Picture of a NADA community clinic at Healing Space- Salud y Acupunctura Para el Pueblo (SAPP), FSUMC-People's Church featuring Karen in green scrubs and a few people who have received treatments.

Karen at Healing Space- Salud y Acupunctura Para el Pueblo (SAPP), FSUMC-People’s Church

My healing work is done as a practitioner through what I call “International Healing Center (IHC)” in New York, as well as in Ecuador and Guatemala. However, the ‘Center’ is basically me moving to different places internationally. In Ecuador, I have organized and held several rotating “rural healing clinics”. They are basically free-treatment clinics, but patients often bring me fruits, palm hearts, beautiful handmade items, live chickens or even invite me to eat at their homes. These heartfelt exchanges for my time, care and expertise are probably the best payments anyone could ever receive in my opinion. I have mostly done full body acupuncture and had people go home with ear seeds of a modified NADA protocol according to their individual situation. I would have to say “SHEN MEN” is my all-time favorite point. In the States, I have volunteered at with the Lion’s Club and through other organizations at Health Fairs and I have used auricular ear acupuncture that involved the NADA points.

I have found that using the ear points and NADA protocol offered an easier way to access healing to a larger amount of people and open doorways to these dimensions of healing in a community setting. Some people may also have an easier time just starting with ear acupuncture if they are unfamiliar with acupuncture.

What is the Healing Space Project at the People’s Church in El Barrio?

I recently was involved in an interesting collaboration with a Healing Space that took place at the FSUMC-People’s Church in El Barrio, in New York City. I was initially invited to be part this starter collaboration by an acupuncture colleague who was aware of some of my previous work. Our paths had crossed several times where we had shared, as people of color, several observations at different junctures though the years in different continuing education classes at the Chinatown Wellness Center. We did volunteer work for the community with auricular acupuncture, which included the NADA protocol in a community type setting with chairs.

The first phase of this Healing Space Project occurred from July to end of October. This project that took place at the FSUMC-People’s Church also counted with a volunteer also from SAPP (Salud y Acupunctura Para El Pueblo) and one from CRREW (Community Relief and Rebuilding through Education and Wellness) were also a part of this collaboration.  The church also had some volunteers to help out and it has been so far a very rewarding experience to be able to share in healing and wellness especially during these times of coronavirus pandemic. 

The Healing Space in El Barrio was our way of all coming together to provide some care for people who otherwise may not have access to these healing practices. Feeling relief from stress, anxiety and pain were mentioned by all the participants who received treatments. We used points from the NADA protocol and modified it with other ear points as we applied Chinese medicine theory according to each patient treatment. We also integrated essential oils, guasha, and some liniments as needed.

At this space, I also gave a special workshop with herbs and a demonstration of an ancient vaporization technique that could be done at home along with internal herbs to use to treat respiratory conditions that were specifically formulated for the current pandemic. I had made these formulas with Chinese medicine principles in mind but with easy to find and inexpensive ingredients that could be bought in almost any U.S. supermarket or rural international market. Over 500 people have been successfully treated with these formulas so far, so I wanted to share them in this space too and it was well-received.

What other projects are you working on and how can people support your community work?

I soon plan to do a series of workshops in Ecuador to continue training a few others in the basics of moxa, emergency acupuncture and auricular treatments.

I will also be holding open rural clinic in 2 regions. One will be at an indigenous community in the Amazon where we have had these open clinics before and have ongoing collaborations for the past 20 years. Another one will be in the Coastal area of Ecuador.

Currently, if people would like to support this, funds are being raised for this with the help of the non-profit “Saq’Be: Organization for Mayan and Indigenous Spiritual Studies” and by letting them know it’s specifically for the Amazon Acupuncture Project or people can get in contact directly with me. In the past, I have done this with my own funds and the occasional help of needles supplies, but I am hoping there can be more support so make this grow and expand in the way it is envisioned, especially in light of the current health situations.

Amazon Acupuncture Project: Learn more & support upcoming rural clinics with Saq’Be: Organization for Mayan and Indigenous Spiritual Studies

We regularly uplift the work of a NADA member through our #NADAMembershipSpotlight series.

Do you know someone in the NADA community whose work should be highlighted? Nominate them to be featured by our #NADAMembershipSpotlight Series. Learn more.

Follow us on Instagram & Facebook.