Posts Tagged ‘Emily Gadd’

Alternative Medicine


Tanner Anderson, 19, and Kenneth Malone, 26, met at Igzactly 420 where they often run into each other on Monday mornings before Malone goes to classes at Academy of Art downtown. This week he is preparing for finals. Dec. 17, 2012.

Tanner Anderson, 19, and Kenneth Malone, 26, met at Igzactly 420 where they often run into each other on Monday mornings before Malone goes to classes at Academy of Art downtown. Dec. 17, 2012.

Words: Emily Gadd
Photos: Tearsa Joy Hammock

Right on the edge of the Financial District in San Francisco is a small store that sells medicine for all kinds of ailments like insomnia, chronic pain, psoriasis, and depression to name a few. When you enter the store it is nicely furnished, with many lounge areas for its patrons to hang out at; the walls are painted a light green and there are large aquariums filled with Koi fish sporadically around the room.


Igzactly420 is a medical marijuana dispensary; it opened in 2009 and since then has been helping a clientele of all different ages with all sorts of different problems.

Igor Khavin is one of the owners of Igzactly 420, he used cannabis recreationally since the age of 15. In 2004 he broke his back, and was prescribed a lot of strong painkillers like oxycontin by his doctors. His injury left him in a lot of pain, but the painkillers that the doctors gave him kept him from doing much of anything. “I was basically a heroin addict,” Khavin said. He began using cannabis medicinally and he was finally given relief from his pain, but was still able to lead a functioning life.

"Jack the Ripper" up close and personal under a lighted magnifying glass. Though it is more difficult to determine the difference between indica leaves and sativa leaves once they are in the dried and cured form of buds, indica buds have the tendency to being denser and darker while sativa buds are more light and airy. This selection is a hybrid of both types. Dec. 17, 2012.

“Jack the Ripper” up close and personal under a lighted magnifying glass. Though it is more difficult to determine the difference between indica leaves and sativa leaves once they are in the dried and cured form of buds, indica buds have the tendency to being denser and darker while sativa buds are more light and airy. This selection is a hybrid of both types. Dec. 17, 2012.

Khavin is only one of many Americans who feel that they are not getting the help they need from the “traditional” types of medicine. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Americans spent $234.1 billion on prescription drugs, up six times from 1990, when Americans only spent $40.3 billion. Illness from prescription drugs cost Americans about $289 annually.

Another study estimates 2.2 million adverse effects to prescribed drugs while still in the hospital, and 106,000 people die annually from these side effects, costing about $12 billion. Dr. Richard Besser from the CDC estimated that 20 million antibiotic prescriptions were entirely unnecessary. In 2003 he believes it is close to the tens of millions.

Marijuana is still very controversial for medicinal use most likely because of all the different laws that have been passed trying to control it. In 1906 cannabis was officially labeled a poison and the government started regulating it. In the mid-1930s the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act helped tighten regulation on cannabis as a drug.

In 1936 the film Reefer Madness was released , showing wayward teens smoking marijuana and then committing suicide, killing people, or just losing their minds. The makers of the film hoped to frighten parents enough that they would ‘educate’ their children on the ‘extreme’ dangers of marijuana.

According to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 cannabis is a Schedule I drug, meaning it shouldn’t be used for medicinal purposes and users could easily begin abusing the drug.

This past November in the 2012 election Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize possession and use of cannabis for recreational purposes.

Khavin thinks that the public’s attitude towards marijuana is slowly changing because people are no longer paying attention to propaganda.

He enjoys running a dispensary in California, and San Francisco is one of the easiest cities in California to run these types of business. There are a lot of conflicting laws that regulate medicinal marijuana in the United States which make it very difficult on dispensary owners.

Although there are still some hard parts about running a dispensary, they aren’t allowed to write off anything as a business expense and because of the strict possession laws there is no such thing as a legal way to grow marijuana in large enough stock to supply a business. In order to supply their patients with their medication Igzactly420 must depend on other patients to supply for them. Khavin says it makes the store “for patients by patients.”

Medical Marijuana cardholders are allowed to hold half of a pound of marijuana on them at a time. They bring it in and are reimbursed for their cannabis. Khavin says that without a large network like theirs, it becomes very difficult for a dispensary to survive.

Igzactly420 set up their store to create a comfortable and social environment for patients. They wanted to avoid an “in and out” place and a “check cashing” environment. The store is a smoke-free facility, so when patients take their medicine in the store, they mainly do it by using vaporizers that are set up around the rooms among the fish tanks and couches.

Medicinal marijuana patient, Kenneth Malone, 26, utilizes the vaporizer in a lounge at Igzactly 420, Dec. 17, 2012.

Medicinal marijuana patient, Kenneth Malone, 26, utilizes the vaporizer in a lounge at Igzactly 420, Dec. 17, 2012.

There are no video games or anything that would keep patients from mingling. Khavin really enjoys talking to other patients because he learns things from them all the time, and he wants other people to have that experience as well.

Igzactly420 also offers other alternative medicines for their patients like acutonics, otherwise known as tuning forks that, when hit, give off vibrations that re-align a patient’s energies. They also have support groups for veterans, and bicycle league for all of their members.

The Power of Massage

Dominque Paillet is a licensed massage therapist and an acutonics practitioner. She currently works at the franchise massage clinic Massage Envy. “As a massage therapist I do my sessions according to my clients’ needs using my tool box.” Paillet said. Her toolbox includes deep tissue techniques, Swedish massage, trigger points, acupressure, myofascial release, cranial sacral, and Reiki to name a few.

“To treat my clients, I use my intuitive abilities,” Paillat explains. “ [by] evaluating [their] posture, mood and emotional state.”

Reiki is the first technique she learned, which is a Japanese form of healing that believes healing energy can be pushed into another person from special hand positions. Paillat describes the sessions as “really relaxing.”

At the end of each session Paillat likes to incorporate stretches and exercises she has learned from her Tai-Chi, Yoga, and Qi-Gong classes.

Although she can’t give out any prescriptions as a massage therapist she has a bit more freedom when she is working with Acutonics.

Paillet describes Acutonics as, “a form of acupuncture [without] needles [that uses] tuning forks scientifically calibrated upon the velocity of the planets…Acutonics is a complex system combining sound healing, oriental medicine, the Tao of Astrology and science-based astronomy.”

The Kairos Institute of Sound Healing’s website further explains that acutonics uses the same pressure points that acupuncture and acupressure use “to access the body’s Meridian and Chakra energy systems.”

Donna Carey created acutonics while she worked at an acupuncture college sixteen years ago. The Kairos Institute estimates that there are hundreds of practitioners and over 50 instructors.

She places her tuning forks on the same places on the body where acupuncturists put their needles.

To get the certification she currently has, Paillet completed a two-year special training in Berkeley. She is currently writing a thesis to obtain a higher certification. Some examples of classes that is taking right now are “Energetics, Points and Meridians”, “Soundscapes for a Natural Facelift” and “Harmonic Pathologies” where she learned how to treat a wide range of illnesses from the common cold to lupus.

As an acutonics practitioner she can give a lot of medical treatments. Most of which are caused, she believes, by imbalances in the body. Colds, viruses, high blood pressure, depression, and fibromyalgia are just a few of the ailments that her treatments can cure.

“I have a certification in essential oils which are so powerful when combined with Acutonics and I can prescribe in that case the appropriate essential oil,” explains Paillet.

According to Paillet, essential oils were mankind’s first medicine. “Essential oils are the volatile liquids that are distilled from plants, including their respective parts such as seeds, bark, leaves, stem, roots, flowers, and fruit,” she said. “Essential oils have different electrical frequencies affecting the level of health and have different medicinal and curative effects on different ailments.”

Paillet has had patients who have seen a lot of results from her Acutonics work. They tell her that they believe what she does is magic, but she assures them it’s just from completing the proper training.


Albert Cortez has been a massage therapist for seven years. He was 22-years-old when he began studying massage therapy, he enjoyed doing it but he was looking for something new to do.

Cortez hurt his back while break dancing and was having trouble getting rid of the pain. He met an acupuncturist in Florida and decided to see if acupuncture could help him.

“One needle and the pain was gone,” said Cortez. He was inspired by this encounter to begin pursuing acupuncture. As a student, he met his wife and they eventually opened up a clinic together.

“Acupuncture is for everyone.” Cortez says. “It’s new but it’s old. It’s been out for 30,000 years but it’s new to us because we grew up with western medicine.”

When Cortez explains how acupuncture works to other people he is always trying to “add a western spin” to his descriptions. He knows that “the chi talk” turn people off of treatments like acupuncture. “They don’t believe in chi, when they try it, it’s magic.” he said.

Cortez would best describe acupuncture as preventative medicine. “Headaches can come from many places. When the elements enter your body it changes you chemical balance.” He explains. This is very different from the western medicine way of teaching. “In western medicine a headache is a headache, you would just take an ibuprofen.” But in the theory that goes with acupuncture your stomach could be giving you your headache, or really any other part of your body. Herbs are also a very important of acupuncture, because “they are natural and not synthetic,” Cortez says.

To become an acupuncturist you have to go through what Cortez describes as a very rigorous training because they are considered primary health care providers, it took a long time to get this way.

According to the California government’s acupuncture board website people who practiced acupuncture were once prosecuted, but the practitioner and the patients that really believed in it eventually convinced the government to protect the people that were interested in using acupuncture.

In 1972 acupuncture was only allowed under the supervision of licensed doctor’s for research purposes. A few years later in 1975 acupuncturists were allowed to take patients as long as a licensed doctor had recommended them. By 1978 acupuncturists were given the ability to be primary health care providers meaning that they could take patients whenever they wanted to without waiting for referral from other medical professionals.

When acupuncture students begin school they have to learn to be competent in their understanding of western medicine as well as the philosophy and Chinese theory that acupuncture is based off of.

Cortez is really enjoying practicing acupuncture. “It’s fun, interesting, and really hard at the same time,” he says. Cortez says that there are both physical and spiritual aspects to acupuncture but he prefers to go deep in the spiritual aspect of it. When he has a patient he really likes to understand them and know everything from what they are thinking to what they are eating.

One of Cortez’s favorite patient success stories so far in his career is about a man who came to him for treatment for an injury he got from when he was in the army and he was in a lot of pain, he had great difficulties walking for about a month, and for about two weeks he was entirely paralyzed from the waist down. The man felt like he had no other choice, but to have surgery in order to get rid of his pain and begin walking properly again.

He was very reluctant to get surgery and was looking for alternative treatments that would help him get better. The man met Cortez and started receiving acupuncture treatments, and was able to finally get relief from his pain and he didn’t need surgery.

Cortez is really excited about his path ahead; he sees a lot of good things happening for him in his career as an acupuncturist. “This is only the beginning for me,” he says.

Serious injuries have turned people like Cortez and Khavin into more than just users and advocates but it inspired them to make their careers about educating and helping people get better with the same treatments that helped them.

Although positive experiences with alternative medicines won’t make everyone change their careers it still changes their lives.

See a Chiropractor

Sheila Cook, a 23-year-old business marketing major at SF State is one of these people. When she had just turned 18-years-old Cook was in a serious car accident when someone ran a red light and hit her car.

“I was t-boned on my driver’s side at 50 miles per hour,” Cook said. She was rushed to the hospital where it was quickly discovered that although she had been fortunate enough to not break any bones or have any lacerations, but she didn’t get out of the accident entirely unscathed.

“The X-Rays showed swelling that the doctors said [were] 95% likely [to] lead to long-term or permanent soft tissue damage and horrible back pain that would require painkillers twenty four seven,” says Cook.

Her father was reluctant to have his eighteen-year-old daughter on pain medication for the rest of her life, so they quickly began looking for other treatments.

“I was released from the hospital and taken to a chiropractic center. I met with my first chiropractor who reviewed my X-rays and [saw] that the soft tissue damage was there and was messing with the alignment of my back already,” Cook said. She was still in pain from the whiplash she had received and the soft tissue damage added even more.

Her chiropractor started ‘correcting’ her spine that day. “I felt a little better, but he said it would take months to feel almost anything,” Cook explained.

Cook had sessions with her chiropractor once a week for about six months. She used a combination of electro stimulation therapy, where small electrodes were attached to her back and sent pulsations to the tissue, adjustments to her spine and neck and at home strengthening exercises.

Now Cook only needs to visit her chiropractor sporadically, but she is ecstatic with the results she got from her treatments. “They worked wonders,” she says, “I still and always will have permanent soft tissue damage but by spending the time originally and going in every once in awhile for adjustments my spine and non-damaged muscle tissue is strong enough to keep me out of severe enough pain to require painkillers constantly.”

Cook’s experience taught her that there are some circumstances where alternative treatments were much more helpful than more traditional western treatments. However there are still many people who are unconvinced of alternative treatments.

“Alternative medicine is specifically the shit that isn’t proven to have serious clinical efficacy, and it’s usually a bunch of expensive crap that might make you feel better but won’t actually make you better,” says Frankie Griffen, an SF State alumna.

“Some herbs do have clinical efficacy, yes, but the number of ‘alternative medicine’ therapies that actually have directly attributable positive health outcomes is pathetically low,” says Griffen.

Griffen is especially disbelieving of theories that revolve around chi, like acupuncture. “You might as well get tickle therapy and look at a map of the body drawn by the same people who make park maps for Disney World.”

Turn of a Page, Click of a Button


Photo by Jamie Valaoro

Words: Emily Gadd
Photos: Jamie Valaoro

The smell of freshly bound books filling the air of a bookstore; the yellowed pages of old books in a library; the sound of fingers rubbing against two pages to separate them; the quick flipping between pages to get to a certain spot in the book. These are things that could all be gone someday — if the current eReader trend continues.

The trend shows no sign of slowing down. With the recent release of the iPad mini, more people are sure to begin using eReaders and tablets instead of books. According to the The Harris Poll, 13 percent of Americans say they will most likely purchase an eReader in the next six months. That leaves a significant chunk of people who aren’t but it’s a still a huge increase from years past. 10 percent were unsure if they would purchase one or not.

The most recent federal statistics show that 1,000 bookstores closed between 2000-2007 leaving only 10,600 open. Although it is difficult to credit eReaders with these changes, it is undeniable that both markets are changing; negatively for bookstores, and positively for eReaders.

Electronic books and electronic readers have a longer history than many might imagine. Michael Hart is the creator of the eBook and Project Gutenberg, the movement to put more free-use text on the Internet. Hart wanted to make books more accessible. He began the effort in 1971 when he typed up the Declaration of Independence and posted it online. Hart expanded the project by typing in other bodies of text like the Bible. By the eighties Hart’s online public library contained thousands of titles. Project Gutenberg still exists today, allowing readers to download thousands of eBooks for free on their computers or eReaders.

There have been several models of eReaders, but one of the first well-known devices was released in 1998 by Nuvo Media (now owned by Gemstar) called “The Rocket.” It didn’t really catch on as later models would. The release of Amazon’s Kindle device about a decade later would make eReaders much more visible to consumers.

The first generation Kindle launched in November of 2007 at a retail value of $399. It was only available in the United States through and sold out in five and a half hours, although it is unknown how many of the devices were made available to customers the Kindle remained out of stock until April 2008.

Barnes and Noble released the first generation Nook in November 2009 and it came equipped with a few qualities that the Kindle device didn’t have. While both devices had 3G capabilities, Nook was the first to give its users Wi-Fi access and had memory extension abilities. By comparison, the Kindle was lighter, possessed four more days of battery life and had a text-to-speech feature. A 2011 survey by asked American adults if they had read an e-book in the past year, or purchased an eReader. It found that 17 percent of American adults had read an eBook in the past year and 10 percent owned an eReader. After Christmas time the survey was given out again and eReader ownership jumped from 10 percent to 19 percent, and 21 percent of adults had read an e-book compared to the 17 percent just a few months before.

Does this mean that smooth computer screens and shiny buttons will replace old-fashioned books? Barnes and Noble Digital Sales Lead and San Francisco State University alum Daniel DeFord doesn’t think so.

“Readers who own a tablet or a reading device of any brand, about 76 percent of them still buy real books. That’s huge,” says DeFord.

What could explain why people still choose to buy hard copies of text? DeFord says, it’s simply a case of nostalgia.

“Despite the fact that they have a better device, they’re going out and making a hugely unwise economic choice to buy something. Why? For sentimental value… We sell products that have a sentimental value to our customers and they will buy them even when it’s a bad idea to do so.”

DeFord is in charge of helping customers of San Bruno’s Barnes and Noble with any Nook questions, in a similar fashion to Apple’s Genius bar. Deford believes that Barnes and Noble’s possession of actual stores and flesh and blood people to sell you their eReader is what gives them an edge on Amazon.

“That’s one of the most amazing things in marketing, right? Actually selling something that is in no way different, but you’re buying the brand,” DeFord says. “That’s exactly how Barnes and Noble can survive and thrive because you see that brand value just going into the store. You want to have a store to go to, so that funds the brand.”

Trisha Paule, a senior at SF State, is a Kindle user but still relies on traditional books, especially for school. “I use [Kindle] mostly when I read for pleasure, [I] hardly ever [use it] academically, so [I use it] anywhere between eight to twelve hours a week.” Paule explained. “I chose it because I assumed it would have a wider selection of books than the Nook.”

SF State creative writing major Cheyanne Cooper noticed when she started taking upper division classes she felt like she was getting buried under books. She wanted an eReader to help her carry around all of her books for school, and decided to purchase the Nook for what she describes as simple reasons.

“When you compare the two, they’re nearly identical in function,” Cooper says. “I chose the Nook because I wanted to support a bookstore and because I liked the look and the ability to add a micro SD [secure digital] card to give me more storage space.”

Both devices give readers the ability to consolidate their libraries into small devices and save them the hassle of going to the bookstore every time they want a new book.

“I have a huge library at my disposal,” Cooper adds. “All I have to do is click ‘buy’ instead of trekking to the store.”

Cooper sees what DeFord emphasizes is the Nook’s greatest function: the ability to keep Barnes and Noble stores open.

“I call it the ‘book amusement park,’ you know, where that’s what’s making it run is the concessions,” Deford insists. “It’s the food you buy in the amusement park that keeps it open. Likewise, it’s the Nook product that you buy that keeps Barnes and Noble open. But that’s not the only thing you get at an amusement park. You get rides, you get fun, you get memories. That’s what Barnes and Noble is! It’s a book amusement park held up by Nook.”

Although eReaders are a more convenient way to buy and store books, some readers will never be able to give up actual books.

“Yeah, it may be more convenient if you’re going on vacation and want to pack like 18 books,” SF State sophomore Audrey Marra says. “But what’s wrong with old fashioned books? I love the way they smell and sound when I buy a new one. It’s something I can basically keep forever and give to my kids.”

Marra is obstinate in her commitment to literature that you can hold in your hand. She is also wary of books becoming digital and experiencing the problems that come with technology, like shorting out when getting wet or contracting viruses. “A real book will never be lost in cyberspace.”

SlutWalk Featured Image

A Provocative Change


Jadelynn Stahl (with the bullhorn) and Maria Garcia, are two of the people leading marchers on Slutwalk from Delores Park to the Castro. Slutwalk was formed to help deconstruct the myths around rape, “slutshaming,” and victim blaming. September 8, 2012. Photo by Deborah Svoboda.

 Words: Emily Gadd & Ruby Perez
Photos: Deborah Svoboda

Jadelynn Stahl stands in front of the crowd with a kind of confidence that comes with natural leaders. In her hands she holds a portrait of herself as a child. The little girl in the picture is smiling faintly and wears a rainbow visor that reads “California.”

“Would you call this girl a “slut?” she asks.

She points to the picture. “This is the year I was raped.”

Stahl, along with fifty or so others, gather in San Francisco’s Mission Dolores Park for SlutWalk, a protest that is trying to shine light on the victim-blaming that many sexual assault and rape victims experience. The protest, deemed controversial by some, uses unconventional methods to gain attention to their cause. Some of the protesters are dressed simply in jeans and t-shirts but many sport lingerie and towering high heels. There are wigs, leather corsets, mini skirts, thigh garters, and lots and lots of skin.

The SlutWalk began in 2011 in Toronto, Canada as a response to an authority figure perpetuating victim-blame while speaking at a safety meeting at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School. Constable Michael Sanguinetti told the attendees, “I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this, however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”

Outraged, Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis began SlutWalk in Toronto in an attempt to protest the blame of assault on victims. They believe that the person inflicting the violence deserves the blame, not the victim-no matter what their lifestyle or their choice of clothing is like. Whether they are male, female, gay, transgender, sex workers, prudish or sluts, SlutWalk participants and organizers believe that no matter the gender, age, dress or level of intoxication; rape and sexual assault are never the victim’s fault.

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