Acupuncture has a ver-r-ry long history. A few years ago, the news was full of the discovery of a human body in a deep ice crevasse, which was carefully exhumed and later carbon dated at greater than 5000 years old. When the 'Iceman' was examined, he had what appears to be small tattooed areas marking points to aid stamina and digestion. In the pouch at his hip was a collection of wood (bamboo?) and stone slivers that could be used as point stimulators! To keep it very brief, the medicine people of ancient China had, basically, two mandates: keep the Emperor well (he was, after all, the physical embodiment of God) and keep the women healthy and productive.
The origin of this medical model seems to have been in the monasteries of Korea. It is believed the Korean monks took the information to China, where it was tried, expanded and modified to regional needs, then passed on to Japan, who refined it. When Chairman Mao took over China, in 1949, he decided to codify the people's medicine, to make it easier to teach and research. Fast forward to 1972, when President Nixon made his trip to China. One of the press journalists developed a life threatening condition that required immediate surgery. The surgical staff used an acupuncturist, who inserted and stimulated needles in the man's ear during the procedure, in lieu of anesthetics. When everyone returned to the USA, he reported his experience, and the stage was set for a "new" natural medicine.
In Florida, to become a licensed acupuncturist, one must go through the same amount of training as a medical doctor. Once the basics are covered, we're immersed in the same technical education as the MDs, such as lab tests, imaging interpretation, etc, but our 'medicine' differs. We don't train for surgery, nor do we get taught about pharmaceutical drugs, which means we don't have prescriptive rights to these options. What we do have is a practice act that encompasses virtually every other healing art known. Anyone interested in the details is welcome to go to www.myflorida.gov and see the wonderful things we have available. Most people choose to stay within the core offerings of acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulation, but many intrepid souls branch out into other options.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a consensus statement relating to acupuncture. Some of the salient points include: there is clear evidence that acupuncture is effective, with specific emphasis on pain control; the adverse side effects are minimal and significantly lower than other modalities; and they encouraged broader access by urging insurance companies, federal and state health plans and other third party payers to expand their coverage to include acupuncture.
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued an official list of diseases and conditions effectively treated by acupuncture, including respiratory disorders, acute and chronic pain conditions, PMS and other gynecological conditions, gastro-intestinal disorders and many others. For additional information, you can go to www.fsoma.org (Florida State Oriental Medicine Association).