Common Q&A about Chinese Medicine
- WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE GOOD FOR?
- WHO CAN PERFORM ACUPUNCTURE?
- WHAT IS AN ACUPUNCTURIST ALLOWED TO DO?
- WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
- DO I NEED A REFERRAL FROM MY REGULAR DOCTOR TO SEE AN ACUPUNCTURIST AND WILL MY INSURANCE COVER ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT?
- ARE ACUPUNCTURISTS REQUIRED TO USE DISPOSABLE NEEDLES?
- WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS AND RISKS FOR ACUPUNCTURE?
Q. WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE GOOD FOR?
A. The report from a Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture held at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1997 stated that acupuncture is being "widely" practiced—by thousands of physicians, dentists, acupuncturists, and other practitioners—for relief or prevention of pain and for various other health conditions. According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included a comprehensive survey of CAM use by Americans, an estimated 3.1 million U.S. adults and 150,000 children had used acupuncture in the previous year. Between the 2002 and 2007 NHIS, acupuncture use among adults increased by approximately 1 million people.
For a complete list of symptoms acupuncture could treat, please visit THE CONSUMER GUIDE at Page 13
Q. WHO CAN PERFORM ACUPUNCTURE?
A. Acupuncturists who maintain a valid license issued by the Acupuncture Board and physicians licensed by the Medical Board of California. A dentist or podiatrist licensed in California may also practice acupuncture, only within the scope of their respective licenses and if they have completed the necessary training required by their respective licensing board.
Q. WHAT IS AN ACUPUNCTURIST ALLOWED TO DO?
A. An acupuncturist is allowed to engage in the practice of acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, perform or prescribe the use of oriental massage, acupressure, moxibustion, cupping, breathing techniques, exercise, heat, cold, magnets, nutrition, diet, herbs, plant, animal, and mineral products, and dietary supplements to promote, maintain, and restore health pursuant to Business & Professions Code Section 4937.
Q. WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
A. Needles are sterile, generally cause no bleeding upon entry or removal, with little or no pain being felt; however, slight bruising may be experienced on occasion. The number of treatments necessary will depend upon your condition, if your symptoms are chronic or acute and your health in general. The needles may vary in size, depending upon your condition and the course of treatment prescribed. In addition to needling your treatment may also include a variety of non-needling techniques such as moxibustion (heat), acupressure, herbal formulas, etc. One advantage of acupuncture treatment is the absence of serious side effects which may result from the use of prescription drugs.
Q. DO I NEED A REFERRAL FROM MY REGULAR DOCTOR TO SEE AN ACUPUNCTURIST AND WILL MY INSURANCE COVER ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT?
A. An acupuncturist is considered a primary care provider and a referral may or may not be required for insurance purposes. Many insurance companies do cover acupuncture treatment. For more information on insurance, please contact either your insurance company or an acupuncture association.
Q. ARE ACUPUNCTURISTS REQUIRED TO USE DISPOSABLE NEEDLES?
A. Yes. It is unprofessional conduct for an acupuncturist to use a needle more than once. California Code of Regulations, Title 16, Section 1399.454.
Q.WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS AND RISKS FOR ACUPUNCTURE?
A. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates acupuncture needles for use by licensed practitioners, requiring that needles be manufactured and labeled according to certain standards. For example, the FDA requires that needles be sterile, nontoxic, and labeled for single use by qualified practitioners only.
Relatively few complications from the use of acupuncture have been reported to the FDA, in light of the millions of people treated each year and the number of acupuncture needles used. Still, complications have resulted from inadequate sterilization of needles and from improper delivery of treatments. Practitioners should use a new set of disposable needles taken from a sealed package for each patient and should swab treatment sites with alcohol or another disinfectant before inserting needles. When not delivered properly, acupuncture can cause serious adverse effects, including infections and punctured organs.