Hawai‘i College of Oriental Medicine

Formerly Named "Traditional Chinese Medical College of Hawaii"

HICOM College News

  • 22 Jul 2013 4:41 PM | Greg Baker (Administrator)



    The 10 Safest (and Coolest) Cities for Women to Travel Alone

    It can be incredibly dangerous for a woman to travel alone. Every year we hear news about sexual assaults on women who have been vacationing. It’s not only the physical attacks that make traveling alone as a female dangerous. Some places will try and take advantage of the lone traveler, charging them more money than other people. Hotel room theft and pickpocketing are also easier if the person is alone.

    There are many places in the world where it may be unsafe for a woman to travel alone. Consider all the aspects of the trip- Will you be walking alone at night? Will you have a tour guide or be exploring the city on your own? Do you have friends or family there that can provide safety when you need it?

    We came up with a list of 10 cities where women should be safe travelling alone. Anyone traveling to a new city should be knowledgeable about the dangers and how to get help if they need it. To choose the cities, we looked at the rights and wages of women in the particular countries, along with crimes against women statistics.

    Here are our top picks for cities to visit if you are a lone female traveler.

    Hilo, Hawai'i:

    There are many safe cities for women in the United States, but for a vacation you can’t beat Hawaii. Hilo is on the island of Hawai’i, also known as the “Big Island” to avoid any confusion over the name. Hilo is the largest settlement on the island, with over 40,000 people. Be sure to check out the natural scenery with a trip to the Akaka Falls State Park, where a beautiful 400-foot high waterfall will amaze you. Hilo is also home to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation, so snack on delicious chocolate covered macadamia nuts as a treat.

  • 02 Apr 2013 9:50 AM | Greg Baker (Administrator)
    ACUPUNCTURE COLLEGE OPENS IN HILO - Hawaii Herald Tribune Newspaper
    April 2, 2013

    Hilo residents can now become an acupuncturist in their own backyard. The Hawaii College of Oriental Medicine (hicom.edu) moved to Hilo last year from Waimea and changed its name from Traditional Chinese Medical College of Hawaii.

    HICOM just started accepting new students each semester. The next class starts April
    29 and space is still available for interested students. HICOM offers a 3 2/3-year Masters of Science in Oriental Medicine (MSOM) that is required to be allowed to take licensing exams as well as to be licensed in the state of Hawaii. Students need at least 60 semester credits to meet entrance requirements for HICOM, which is just
    two years of college.

    Students at Hawaii Community College are great candidates to enter the program, said HICOM Dean David Bruce Leonard, who has been practicing acupuncture for more than 20 years. He is the author of “Medicine At Your Feet: Healing Plants of the Hawaiian Kingdom.”

    HICOM offers a student intern clinic with treatments costing $30 and seniors discounted to $20. The college notes appointments are recommended. This summer the clinic is expanding to a full integrative medicine clinic focused on “Metabolic Age Management.”
    “The key to this approach is making lifestyle changes to diet and exercise with acupuncture being effective at reducing the cravings and/or blockages that usually
    stop people along the way,” said Leonard. Patients can add their name to a waiting list to be treated in this expanded clinic.

    HICOM is located on the fifth floor of the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort on Hilo Bay. Their address is 93 Banyan Drive, suite 504, Hilo, HI 96720 and phone is 981-2790.

  • 11 Mar 2013 10:54 PM | Greg Baker (Administrator)

    Native Hawaiians have served with honor in the military forces of the United States of America for several generations.

    For some who were constantly exposed to serious threats of danger and death, their spirits have been negatively affected by those experiences. Reactions to this trauma resulted in years of long-term suffering by families, close friends and veterans.

    The complete unity of spirit, mind, body and heart also known as LOKAHI remained elusive to most of us and just seemed out of reach.

    In 1980, the term PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder was coined by the American Psychiatric Association in its third edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM III).

    Today, four types of PTSD symptoms are recognized:

    * Reliving the event
    * Avoiding situations that remind you of the event
    * Feeling numb
    * Feeling keyed up

    When the symptoms last longer than four weeks, cause great distress and disrupt work or home life, an idividual may have PTSD and should seek help. Unfortunately, an ethnic group of kanaka maoli warriors may not be able to find understanding or complete healing within a Western system of health care.

    Vietnam-veteran and acupuncturist Edyson Kapua Ching, LAc has collaborated with anthropologist-healer Jeffrey Dann PhD, LAc to produce a symposium March 15 in Hilo, entitled Malama Na Koa, which means, “Care for the Warriors.”

    Together, they have gathered a cadre of exceptional healers and other experts with knowledge in the treatment of PTSD to share their collective wisdom and teach the spiritual, mental and physical protocols for restoring LOKAHI in warriors and ohana.

    In order to address the needs for eligible veterans to retrain themselves for new jobs, find safe housing, and receive sustainable, traditional health care, the Hawaii College of Oriental Medicine (HICOM) in Hilo has originated a Warrior-to-Healer program.

    Fulfilling a goal of healing themselves and their families is a reality for HICOM student veterans. Veteran students may be eligible for a monthly stipend, tuition support, and federal student loan forgiveness programs.

    For more information about the Malama Na Koa symposium or about the Warrior-to-Healer program at HICOM, email Dane Kaohelani Silva at dsilva@hicom.edu.

  • 27 Oct 2012 12:15 PM | Greg Baker (Administrator)

    Hawai'i College of Oriental Medicine featured in local article on acupuncture.

    Pain Relief is as Close as your Local Acupuncturist

    Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

    Holistic Approach

    By Diane Koerner

    Many Big Islanders complain of the lack of adequate medical care here. But perhaps they haven’t looked into alternative medicine. Our island is blessed not only with our own Hawaii College of Oriental Medicine, but a large number of acupuncturists, who can offer healing assistance both for chronic and acute ailments.


    Clinical trials over the last 30 years have shown acupuncture to be effective in relieving pain, whether chronic lower back or knee pain, or acute pain from an injury. Having broken my foot, I used the current Western medical remedies including pain killers, the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) protocol, and physical therapy. While these were all helpful, I found Chinese medicine (which includes acupuncture, herbal medicine and Tui Na massage), had even more to offer in terms of pain relief.

    Acupuncture has the unique ability to relax muscles, increase circulation, reduce pain and promote healing. During a treatment, needles are inserted into different key points along meridians that regulate bodily functions. An acupuncture treatment can move blocked Qi (energy) and restore its natural flow, reducing inflammation and eliminating stagnant fluid within the muscles and joints that lead to aches and pains. Acupuncture also works by increasing endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers.

    According to Robby Wade, L.Ac., of Heaven and Earth Acupuncture & Massage in Hilo, “Because of its effectiveness in dealing with orthopedic problems, my practice is primarily focused on using acupuncture, massage and manipulation for pain relief. I use Japanese acupuncture needles which are the size of a hair, very sharp, very thin and virtually painless.”

    According to a recent National Institutes of Health report, acupuncture has proven to be helpful in treating addiction, headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, lower back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. For relief of chronic pain, acupuncture has been shown to be effective in treating 55 percent to 85 percent of cases.


    Traditional Chinese Medicine attempts to treat the cause of pain or disease and help to bring patients into a mind/body balance that aids in the restoration of health, not just a suppression of symptoms through the use of drugs.

    In addition to acupuncture treatments, Doctors of Chinese Medicine may prescribe herbs to balance the system, eliminate the cause of illness, and increase vitality and longevity.

    While many people use alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, only after allopathic medicine has not solved their health problem, it’s best to try Chinese Medicine first, advises Aaron Ishigo, L.Ac., of Big Island Acupuncture in Hilo. “We look for the root cause of your health problem, whether it is digestive, allergies or pain, and treat it with acupuncture and herbs. By trying acupuncture first, you can alleviate many of the side effects experienced when taking prescription drugs.”


    In 1974, Hawaii became the second state to license the practice of acupuncture. According to the Hawaii Board of Acupuncture, the Big Island has 95 licensed practitioners as of March 2012. Another reason to try Acupuncture is that it is now covered by many insurance policies, so check with your carrier.

    Ask your physician, naturopath or friends for recommendations to an acupuncturist in your area.

    For information on the Hawaii College of Oriental Medicine, or their clinics in Waimea and Hilo, see http://www.hicom.edu/.

  • 03 Oct 2012 11:01 PM | Greg Baker (Administrator)

    Whitney Horstman, HICOM Alumnus, Joins Science Sea Expedition To Study Plastics In The Ocean.

    Plastics at SEA: North Pacific Expedition 2012 is a scientific research expedition conducted by Sea Education Association (SEA) dedicated to the study of the effects of plastic marine debris in the ocean ecosystem.  Plastics are versatile, durable and inexpensive materials that have become an important part of our daily lives.  Because of their extensive use and slow degradation, plastics have also become a ubiquitous presence in the world’s oceans.  In October 2012, 38 scientists, sailors and students will embark upon an expedition from San Diego, CA to  Honolulu, HI to tackle tough questions about the impacts of plastic on the ocean ecosystem, while also providing updated estimates of floating plastic concentrations in the region dubbed the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”.

    Website Bio:

    Whitney Horstman is an acupuncturist and massage therapist, originally from the mountains of Colorado, currently living on the Big Island of Hawaii.  She holds an M.S. in Oriental medicine from Hawaii College of Oriental Medicine (2012), and a B.A. in medieval and Renaissance studies from Wellesley College (2002).  Prior to entering the field of alternative medicine she worked as a wildland firefighter and EMT.  Whitney participated in SEA Semester class C-174 her junior year of college, thus fulfilling a dream she had since high school when she first learned of the program.  Her outside activities include hiking and swimming with her dogs, outrigger ocean canoe paddling, fire spinning, horseback riding, literature, and picking up trash on the beach to use in art projects.

  • 02 Sep 2012 6:30 PM | Greg Baker (Administrator)

    Aloha Kakou To New Fall 2012 Class HICOM Students

    Hawai'i College of Oriental Medicine offers a big welcome to the new incoming Fall 2012 students.  The new class gathered together Saturday, September 1st for their college orientation. It was held in the corner suite class space that enjoys 180 degree views of beautiful Hilo bay. 

    The group is a good size with a range of folks from all over the United States as well as locals from the Big Island of Hawai'i.  Their backgrounds range from qi gong instructor, military experience, massage therapists, to a nurse.  Ages of the group range from mid twenties to late forties.

    Greg Baker, COO/CFO for HICOM welcomed the new students and introduced them to the staff of the college.  The outgoing Dean, Megan Yarberry, shared about her recent trip to Africa where she brought along a few students to help teach / share acupuncture with people in Kenya, an interesting program that HICOM offers it's students.

    This group of students are the first to enter under the new name which is part of the evolution to the new location in Hilo as well.

    The college and all of the staff offer their best wishes and support to these students as they take their first step on their personal journey to become an acupuncturist and healer.

  • 08 Feb 2012 9:30 PM | Greg Baker (Administrator)

    Graduates of HICOM Eligible For Student Loan Payoff Through IHS Program

    Students graduating from the Hawaii College of Oriental Medicine in Hilo, Hawaii are now eligible for full loan repayment through a United States federally funded program with the Indian Health Service (IHS).  This is an exciting development that is a good opportunity for the HICOM graduate and a wonderful benefit for the Indian community. 


    "How LRP Works

    The Indian Health Service (IHS) Loan Repayment Program (LRP) offers health professionals like you the opportunity to pay off your qualified student loans while assisting the IHS in meeting the staffing needs of Indian health programs. The LRP awards loan repayment to health professionals practicing in specific health profession disciplines who are willing to commit to an initial two-year service obligation while working in health facilities serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

    Opportunities are based on staffing needs and the availability of funds. Distribution of LRP awards are based on a ranking system created to address these needs. Our system identifies hiring priorities for those Indian health program facilities with the greatest staffing needs in specific health profession disciplines."

    Please see Indian Health Services website for full details on eligibility requirements.

  • 22 Nov 2011 7:27 PM | Greg Baker (Administrator)

    Dr. Michael O. Smith Presents At HICOM

    Dr. Smith is a psychiatrist, acupuncturist, addiction specialist, and public health planner. He has recently retired from his position as director of Lincoln Hospital Substance Abuse Division where he served since 1974.  He is known internationally for advancing acupuncture use for chemical dependency. More than 300 treatment programs worldwide use the Lincoln Hospital model. As chair of the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA), he has provided consultation to city, county, state, federal and UN agencies. His five-year study on the use of Chinese medicine in the treatment of AIDS has been published internationally. He is an assistant professor at NY Medical College and certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine.  In recent years, Dr. Smith has been providing support and consultation for projects ranging from HIV+ women in Ethiopia to prisons in India to psychiatric hospitals in Europe.

    In the first week of November, Dr. Smith visited the Big Island, en route between conferences and meetings across Europe and on his way to speak at Five Branches University.  During his stay he visited the Volcanoes National Park, the beach parks of Keaukaha, and attended several informal gatherings in Hilo and Puna.

    Dr. Smith speaks at TCMCH

    On Thursday November 3rd Dr. Smith gave a talk at TCMCH.  Attendees included people trained in the NADA protocol at Lincoln Recovery Center in New York, a former NADA US board member, and many potential community collaborators.  Dr. Smith spoke on the history of NADA, healthcare education and delivery in the US and internationally, and the value of simplicity and bravery in these changing and challenging times.  As one attendee said “Dr. Smith teaches us about the history of this medicine through his stories; the depth of his experience and the breadth of his perspectives are remarkable.”

    luncheon for Dr. S.



   Administration Office Hours Hilo Campus
   Tues, Wed, Thur  - 9am to 4pm

   Business & Financial Aid Office Hours
   Tues, Wed, Thurs - 10am to 4pm

   Hilo Clinic Hours
   Open: Mon & Fri - 9.30 am to 12.30pm, 2.30pm to 6.30pm.

   Phone Numbers

   Admissions:        (808)981-2790    Fax: (866) 757-2131   

   Administration:   (808)981-2790    Fax: (866) 757-2131

   Hilo Clinic:          (808)933-1369    Fax: (866) 757-2131

College Addresses:            

Hawaii College of Oriental Medicine
180 Kinoole Street, Suite 301
Hilo, HI 96720

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