During the past 20 years, acupuncture has become more and more popular. It is defined as a therapeutic technique of oriental medicine that uses fine needles to stimulate various body points for the healing purpose.
Acupuncture has emerged into one of the most practical forms of integrative medicine interventions in the United States and around the globe. In fact, more than 12 million acupuncture sessions are being administered per year in the United States alone. The rise of this alternative medicine approach in popularity, particularly in the United States and Europe, can be attributed to its effectiveness for pain relief and to the fact that scientific studies and clinical trials have begun to prove its efficacy.
Acupuncture in Western Countries
Non-discrimination in health care language of the ACA (Affordable Care Act) is one of the most encouraging signs for the future of acupuncture in the United States. This law prohibits discrimination against health care providers who deliver health services that fall under the state-defined extent of the practice.
This ensures that health plans can no longer make it an absolute requirement that acupuncture is provided only by a medical doctor. Moreover, in states such as California, alternative and complementary therapeutic interventions such as acupuncture and chiropractic care are now considered “essential health benefits.” Now that acupuncture specialists are defined as part of the healthcare workforce, and their practice is mandated in California, the future of acupuncture therapy looks wide open in the United States.
Modern Research and Acupuncture
Since the 1980s, scholars in China have researched Western medicine and have started to integrate it into acupuncture. By embracing allopathic medical knowledge as well as modern technologies, acupuncture has been able to generate safe and effective methods of treatment.
Synthesis of Eastern and Western practices allow practitioners on both sides to enhance treatments and approach patients in a far more balanced manner. An excellent example of this union is scalp acupuncture (1), which is the most significant development in acupuncture in the last 20 years. It has fused traditional Chinese medicine with Western medicine by locating representative areas of the brain and influencing their physiology. This needling can influence the central nervous system and has the ability to treat many kinds of nervous system disorders such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, phantom pain, traumatic brain injury, spinal injury and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). With scalp acupuncture, more than 80% of patients have shown improvement in coordination of muscle movements, paralysis (2), and impairment of language, and some patients have also recovered completely.
Eastern medicine has accepted traditional methods like acupuncture both through intuition and practice. Together, Eastern and Western scientists and practitioners have taken this practice to the next level. They have been presenting studies and clinical trials that prove that modern scientific research does indeed support these practices.
Now is the time to push acupuncture to the next level and make it accessible to all. Residents of both corners must bridge that last gap and strengthen the integration of modern scientific knowledge and acupuncture to new levels.