By Ruth Ackerman

John Ackerman, an early practitioner and advocate of the NADA protocol, died August 2, 2020 after a long struggle with Lewy Body Dementia in Santa Barbara, California.

Growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, John completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan and medical school at the University of Wisconsin where he met and married his wife, Ruth, in 1963. After completing a straight medical internship in Los Angeles at Mt. Sinai Hospital, he went on to San Francisco for his psychiatric residency at Mt. Zion Hospital and U.C.S.F. From 1968 to 1970, John fulfilled his service obligation as Director of Psychiatric Services, U.S. Public Health Service, Division of Indian Health in Anchorage, Alaska, serving the Indigenous People of the State of Alaska. He trained staff in cross-cultural aspects of patient care, working with village healers, often utilizing short-wave radio which was the telemedicine of its time.

These experiences introduced him to alternative healing methods and the importance of community in supporting mental health. John became a student of acupuncture in 1971, eventually becoming a skilled practitioner of auricular medicine and a researcher, publishing significant work in Subtle Energy Medicine.

He went to Lincoln Recovery Center in 1981, spending two weeks with Mike Smith training and absorbing the spirit of NADA. From that point on, John became an advocate promoting and practicing the NADA protocol. He worked tirelessly educating the medical community to reduce opposition to and create support for NADA-based treatment in Santa Barbara, in the state of California and nationally and internationally.
He gave presentations to the American Psychiatric Association, and did trainings and workshops in Russia, Israel, Hungary and France. He also initiated NADA’s first connection with the Medical Reserve Corps, introducing the NADA protocol and encouraging its addition for disaster relief work with first responders.

John was interested in having acupressure beads placed on reverse Shen Men on his ears. The first time the beads were put in place, he said that “it felt like someone turned on the lights.” Although ear bead treatment was continued intermittently, his cognitive loss was accelerating quickly, and it was impossible to determine if subsequent treatments had the same effect. But he certainly enjoyed the benefits of that first treatment.