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Know Your Acupuncturist

Not all acupuncturists are created equal

Chinese Medicine is a rich practice that entails a comprehensive, whole-person approach. Chinese medicine consists of many modalities, including acupuncture, herbs, Asian bodywork (e.g. acupressure, tui na, shiatsu), nutrition, tai chi, qi gong, and meditation. Much importance is put on the overall lifestyle of the patient and how this affects his/her mind, body and spirit.


A Licensed Acupuncturist (LAc) who has obtained a graduate education from an ACAOM-accredited college and has passed the national certification exams administered by the NCCAOM receives approximately 80% of their education exclusively in this field and has had extensive clinical training averaging 3-4 years. Licensed Acupuncturists may treat a broad range of health issues, including chronic disease, pain, internal medicine, rehabilitation, and preventative care. These practitioners are trained in the many modalities mentioned above.


Other health care practitioners may only use acupuncture, which is one of the many therapies of Chinese Medicine, as a technique in their primary practice. It is possible for a medical doctor and osteopath to undergo 300 or fewer hours of training and to use acupuncture as a supplemental technique for pain and other simple complaints. The World Health Organization recommends that medical doctors have a minimum of 200 hours of training to know when to refer to a more thoroughly trained Acupuncturist or Oriental Medicine practitioner.


Additionally, it is possible to complete a 100-hour training to become a detox/auricular acupuncture technician in order to treat addiction and pain only.

The Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM) offers guidelines for how to choose a qualified acupuncturist.   They provide a chart that is designed to illustrate the varying levels of acupuncture education undertaken by health care professionals.  View the chart: Know your acupuncturist!


Ask your practitioner about his or her education in order to ensure that you receive the most professional acupuncture care available so that you achieve your optimal health and wellness.

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