Dr. Cecilia Hsing Gulyas, *L. Ac., DOM, MSOM, PhD
* What is...
L.Ac. Licensed Acupuncturist
DOM Diplomat in Oriental Medicine
MSOM Master's of Science in Oriental Medicine
PhD Doctor of Philosophy
What is Acupuncture?
The ancient Chinese believed that there is a universal life energy called Chi or Qi present in every living creature. This energy is said to circulate throughout the body along specific pathways that are called meridians. As long as this energy flows freely throughout the meridians, health is maintained, but once the flow of energy is blocked, the system is disrupted and pain and illness occur. Imagine rivers that flood and cause disasters or an electrical grid short-circuiting that causes blackouts. Acupuncture works to “re-program” and restore normal functions by stimulating certain points on the meridians in order to free up the Chi energy.
Does Acupuncture work?
The 1997 NIH Consensus Development Conference Statement on acupuncture concluded:
...promising results have emerged, for example, showing efficacy of acupuncture in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and in postoperative dental pain. There are other situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma, in which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program. Further research is likely to uncover additional areas where acupuncture interventions will be useful.
Acupuncture is performed along the body's meridian
What is Meridian?
It is from the techniques and doctrines of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), including acupuncture, acupressure, and qigong. According to these practices, the body's vital energy, "qi", circulates through the body along specific interconnected channels called meridians. There is no physically verifiable anatomical or histological proof of their existence, though research has shown how transmission of information experienced as qi could be possible through the subcutaneous fascia.
Are Needles Safe?
In 1996, the Food and Drug Administration changed the status of acupuncture needles from Class III to Class II medical devices, meaning that needles are regarded as safe and effective when used appropriately by licensed practitioners. All needles are new and never reused.
History of Acupuncture in the United States?
In the 1970s, acupuncture became vogue in America after American visitors to China brought back firsthand reports of patients undergoing major surgery using acupuncture as their sole form of anesthesia. Since then, tens of thousands of treatments are now performed in this country each year for many types of conditions such as back pain, headaches, infertility, stress, and many other illnesses.
Acupuncture is becoming accepted by the general public and by doctors. Over fifteen million Americans tried acupuncture in 1994. A poll of American doctors in 2005 showed that 60% believe acupuncture was at least somewhat effective, with the percentage increasing to 75% if acupuncture is considered as a complement to conventional treatment.
In the USA, acupuncture is practiced by a variety of healthcare providers. Practitioners who specialize in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine are usually referred to as "licensed acupuncturists", or L.Ac.'s. Other healthcare providers such as physicians, dentists and chiropractors sometimes also practice acupuncture, though they may often receive less training than L.Ac.'s. L.Ac.'s generally receive from 2500 to 4000 hours of training in Chinese medical theory, acupuncture, and basic biosciences. Some also receive training in Chinese herbology and/or bodywork. The amount of training required for healthcare providers who are not L.Ac.'s varies from none to a few hundred hours, and in Hawaiithe practice of acupuncture requires full training as a licensed acupuncturist. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine tests practitioners to ensure they are knowledgeable about Chinese medicine and appropriate sterile technique. Many states require this test for licensing, but each state has its own laws and requirements. In some states, acupuncturists are required to work with an M.D. in a subservient relationship, even if the M.D. has no training in acupuncture.
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