Acupuncture is a form of Oriental Medicine developed thousands of years ago in China and later spread though many countries, including Japan and Korea. While it shares the same theoretical underpinnings as Oriental herbal medicine, traditionally it developed as its own entity. It is important that a practitioner is thoroughly trained in Acupuncture Theory if acupuncture is being used to achieve results.

Acupuncture and the Nine Ancient Needles

The classic medical texts speak of nine ancient needles, giving specific instructions in how they should be used. One fact often overlooked by modern acupuncturists is that two of the nine needles were never designed to be inserted into the body. In Japan and China, the term for “acupuncture” is literally translated into “needle combustion.” “Needle” refers to the use of the nine ancient needles and “combustion” refers to the use of a special herb called moxa commonly burned near the skin to warm the acupuncture points. There is no direct mention of puncture in the translation. This is because acupuncture is about moving, regulating, and correcting the body’s energy imbalances, not about simply sticking people with needles.

Acupuncture in the United States

Acupuncture has been practiced in the United States since the Gold Rush. However, it did not become broadly recognized until the early 1970’s when a journalist traveling to China with then Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger received an emergency appendectomy. Acupuncture was used as a means for surgical anesthesia.

Today, acupuncture is a licensed healthcare profession in the U.S. with more than 10,000 licensed practitioners. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) administers national exams for acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. The NCCAOM is a non-profit organization devoted to promoting nationally recognized standards of competency and safety in acupuncture and Oriental medicine.