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Celebrating the Life of a Leader:

Dr. Allen McDaniels, a Founding Member of the AAMA

allen mcdanielsWith a heavy heart, I report that the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture has lost one of its founding fathers. Allen McDaniels, who started his medical acupuncture practice in 1982, passed away peacefully two weeks ago. He appeared to be in full health and was loving life. At a Helms Medical Institute retreat in September of this year, he was fully engaged as Paul Unschuld lectured on the nuances of the Nei Jing, the complex history of China, and other factors we all consider as we practice the fine art of medical acupuncture. Allen was actively learning all the days of his life.

Dr. Allen McDaniels founded the AAMA along with Joe Helms and John Reed. There were others involved in the inception of the organization, but these three were our true founders. They had a vision of what the AAMA could be, and they had the skills to implement the necessary actions to actualize their vision. The AAMA is their life’s work realized. In particular, Allen was instrumental in fostering the AAMA’s growth, as well as contributing to the journal, leadership development, CME accreditation, and the establishment of the Medical Acupuncture Research Foundation.

Allen completed Joe Helms’ acupuncture class in 1982 and his own meticulous student notebook evolved into the HMI course binder. He was part of the HMI preceptor team since 1984, urging, cajoling, pushing, and encouraging students along in his own unique way. He remained active in teaching and in his private practice until his passing.

I gained a full appreciation for Allen’s skills when he offered me an acupuncture treatment for a recent injury. Being a physician, I knew what I needed. “Just put a couple of needles here and there, and I’ll be fine,” was what I demanded. Allen would have no part of that. He gently and generously kept treating me. Auricular. Scalp. Local. Principle meridian subcircuit and electrical stim. I quietly wondered, “When’s this guy going to quit?” He plodded along, making sure that he was the doctor and I was the patient. Not feeling a single needle insertion, I had a strong endorphin response and my body’s healing response carried on. Allen was a master at the craft and humble in the clinic setting.

The AAMA and HMI have lost an esteemed senior leader. He brought a team approach to any group and, while providing leadership, was always willing to do whatever was asked of him. He modeled the compassionate healer and wise teacher.

We can all continue to learn from what Allen modeled. Be the very best acupuncturist you can be. Continue to learn from the classics. Keep current and fresh. Continue to show up, no matter how much the cards are stacked against it. Put the patient first when you’re in the clinical setting. Be assertive and firm and gentle – all at the same time. Contribute to your professional organizations. Be a generous team player. Mentor others on their paths as healers. Nurture your outside interests and find joy in life. Remember your roots.

Allen McDaniels was a good man. He will live on in our memories and through the legacy he created for us!

Freda L. Dreher, MD, FAAMA
AAMA President


Photos courtesy of Freda Dreher. Left: From left to right, Nick Kouchis, Freda Dreher and Allen McDaniels. Right: Allen McDaniels (L) and Joe Helms (R).