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Why you Should Choose only a Licensed Acupuncturist for Acupuncture

Would you go to a French language teacher who had taken a short course in German to learn the German language?

Would you go to an auto body specialist who had dabbled on a few engines, to get your car’s engine fixed?

Of course not! 

But this is exactly what people are doing when they see a chiropractor, MD, osteopath, or anyone else besides a Licensed Acupuncturist, for acupuncture.

Many health care providers, including MD’s, Chiropractors, and Osteopaths; are now legally allowed to practice acupuncture on their patients, regardless of the fact that they have received a minimum of training (sometimes none) in acupuncture.

These are people who are experts in their field, no doubt—but their field is not Chinese Medicine. Yet these practitioners behave as though taking a few courses in Chinese Medicine suddenly renders them competent in this totally foreign medicine.

Chinese Medicine education vs. Medical Acupuncture Education

I can’t tell you how many people tell me “I tried acupuncture, but it didn’t work”, yet upon further questioning, it turns out that they received acupuncture from a western medical provider, who was not licensed in acupuncture.  SOME western practitioners have gone through a 300 hour “medical acupuncture” certification program. But even these programs are a tiny fraction of the hours it takes to make it through 4 years of Chinese Medical School, and do not prepare a person to understand the depths of the medicine or to use it holistically —which is the whole point of the medicine.

Licensed Acupuncturists receive three times the amount of hours of education in our first year alone than “Medical Acupuncturists” do in their entire certification program. Can someone trained in needling stick an acupuncture needle into a point of pain and bring some relief?  Usually.  But this is like memorizing some basic phrases in German and then claiming to be fluent.

Chinese and Western medicine are so vastly different in their theories, perspectives, and goals, that going to a western provider for acupuncture is like taking your car with a complex engine problem to an auto body shop.  No one would do this, correct?  So why would a person go see anyone but a Licensed Acupuncturist, for acupuncture?

It doesn’t mean that auto body work is any less important or valuable than mechanical work…it just means they are different and must be used as appropriate. 

The difference in acupuncture education between Licensed Acupuncturists and non-Licensed Acupuncturists

Licensed Acupuncturists receive at minimum 3 years of full time, intensive schooling.  In many states, like where I studied in California, the program is 3,200 hours, 4 years, and is even increasing.  All Licensed Acupuncturists have passed intensive weekend-long exams which prove our competency in the medicine, and which earn us our licensing.

Because acupuncture is still such a new profession in the US, legislation has yet to catch up with the truth about the medicine…that it is a highly skilled profession and a deeply profound medicine that takes YEARS to study and learn to the point of competency.

This is an important issue and a hot topic of debate right now in legislation, and a crucial one to be resolved, for the well-being and awareness of patients.  If a patient wants to be treated by someone who has 0-300 compared to over 3,000 hours of training, until the law changes that is their choice; but at least it should be required that they are informed that this is the choice they are making. Any other practice is just not ethical, whether legal or not.

If anyone should read this and take offense because you are practicing acupuncture or prescribing Chinese herbs without being licensed, I invite you to a healthy and friendly debate over a glass of wine or a mug of tea…on me!   Just like any medical professional, it is simply my duty to educate and inform the public regarding the issues surrounding my field, and that is the reason for this posting. Over tea, we will discuss how Qi is produced in the body, the difference between pre and post-natal jing and how it is created, the 8 parameters, 6 stages, and 4 levels, and the relationships between the spleen, heart, and liver in relation to blood vacuity bleeding. We’ll discuss Shen and its relationship to the heart, and the nuances between deficiency heat and depressive liver yang rising in treating high blood pressure, as well as the Shang Han Lun in relation to Cold Diseases.  We’ll discuss the difference between kidney vacuity low-back pain versus blood stasis pain or liver depressive Qi stagnation pain, and the pulse characteristics for each one.

Does this all sound like gibberish?  It doesn’t, to Licensed Acupuncturists.

And it shouldn’t, to anyone who is practicing acupuncture.

To end my posting, I will share a story that was told by a friend of mine, who was suffering from unexplained weight gain and fatigue, and who was getting sick often.  She went to an MD for acupuncture because this was all her insurance would pay for.  When the MD asked why she came for acupuncture, she stated “just general well-being”.  The “acupuncturist” looked at her puzzled, and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

The moral of the story is, go to your MD for western medicine, to your Chiropractor for chiropractic care, and by all means, to a Licensed Acupuncturist for acupuncture!  :-)

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Tags: Problems with medical acupuncture