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November 14, 2022

Student Spotlight: A Visit to Oakland Chinatown

This term I am doing my Herb Room internship under the capable direction of the Herb Pharmacy Manager, Le Jiang. Spending time with the raw herbs and  granules, mixing formulas has proven enriching to say the least. Le is a  wealth of knowledge, and a terrific resource and an even better study mentor- especially where formulas are  concerned.

Imagine my surprise and enthusiasm when she asked me if I’d like to go on a field trip to Oakland’s Chinatown! With no hesitation, we were off.

The Mission

Our mission was to secure more Lianhua Qingwen Jiaonang for the school pharmacy. It’s proven an effective treatment for the symptoms of Covid-19, and having it in stock to support our community has been an important measure.

After parking and walking a short distance, we happened upon HOAN CAU COMPANY, our destination. Le spoke with the store clerks while I marveled at the jars of medicine displayed like candy on the counters. They offered us bits of bites and giggled at our reactions. Le got a bit too much dried ginger that was deceivingly spicy!

They took the time to answer questions about names and prices and let me browse, my curiosity leading the way.

Le’s alternate goal for the trip was to orient me to the neighborhood and also help me feel at ease with visiting a traditionally Chinese speaking institution, all which she did with a casual ease. I appreciated seeing a working Chinese herbal pharmacy in Oakland’s Chinatown. It was amazing to peruse the plethora of trademarked medicines along side fresh, treated and packaged goods.
I was pleased to buy dried buddhas’s hand, or Fo Shou, packaged in small bites for my daughter as well as some beautiful jasmine flowers for tea. I also purchased some Pu-erh tea for my Mom and a bag of Dao Zao for my home.

Lest we not forget what we came her for! Lianhua Qingwen Jiaonang. We’ll take 13 boxes please!

All in all what a pleasure it was to accompany Le on this errand for the AIMC pharmacy. When we got back to school, we were able to fill an immediate order for someone in the community who needed it. All in a days work of a student intern of the herb room.

Visit Oakland’s Chinatown

Le was also kind enough to point out other landmarks and places in the neighborhood. Please find a little map and key organized by business type in the following pages!

The following illustrations were done by Sam Lai for our last AIMC zine that came out last winter. (Thanks Sam for permission to use again!)

leslee About the Author: Leslee Kurihara lives on Ohlone land in San Francisco, CA. She is a student of Classical 5 Element Acupuncture with the Lingshu Institute, as well as a student of TCM at AIMC in Berkeley. She received her Undergraduate degree at the University of CA at Davis in Environmental Science and Design. Leslee believes in the tenets of healing as guided by the laws of nature and in honoring an individual’s unique constitution as integral to the diagnostic and treatment process.

sam About the Artist: Sam Lai (she/her) is a queer, mixed-race student of acupuncture and East Asian Medicine at AIMC Berkeley. Sam moved to the West Coast from her birthplace of Guam to study art, photography, and design strategy. She worked with startups and arts education organizations prior to becoming an acupuncture student. These days, you can find her treating patients at the AIMC Student Clinic; at UC Berkeley treating Cal student-athletes; or at Charlotte Maxwell Clinic, a free clinic serving low-income, underserved, and immigrant women with cancer. Sam is also a backyard beekeeper in the East Bay where she resides with her partner and little red dog Benji.

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