Acupuncture Gains Acceptance in Western Health Care
But Cyrus, who is vice president of the American Association of Oriental Medicine, worries that physicians, chiropractors, and others who take these 200-hour acupuncture courses may have too superficial of an understanding of the process to do patients much good.
"If someone comes in with a headache, that headache can have 15 different etiologies, or causes," he says. "It doesn't mean that any one certain point is going to be appropriate. You can use a few needles to treat it, but there's so much more to it than that. They can't hurt patients, except maybe their pocketbooks. But it's an art and a medicine and takes a lifetime to really understand."
Cyrus' advice to consumers: "Verify credentials of the person providing treatment. Get references. Ask the practitioner if you can speak to a few other patients. Don't be afraid to verify license and education, and whether they have passed the national board exam. These are critical things."
Here are some other tips to help you find a qualified acupuncturist:
- To find doctors who are licensed acupuncturists, you can check the web site of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, a professional society composed of more than 1,800 physicians who have incorporated acupuncture into their medical practices.
- The American Association of Oriental Medicine also has a referral section on its web site.
For more information from WebMD, visit our Living Better page on Alternative Medicine.