Acupuncture Education, Isn't It All The Same?

Before selecting who to see for your acupuncture and oriental medicine treatment, it would be wise to understand the different levels of education of those who practice "acupuncture."

Professionally trained licensed acupuncturists have completed a three to four years of graduate level education in the field of acupuncture and oriental medicine. A typical three year nationally accredited Masters Degree program is over 1500 to 2000 hours in length. Colleges of oriental medicine are approved through The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Following the completion of a program, one must take certification examination(s) which are administered by The National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

In contrast other healthcare providers who advertise acupuncture services may have less training and are authorized to perform acupuncture. Certain providers in the State of Florida are required to complete just 100 hours of training in order to offer acupuncture treatment, whereas other weekend trained practitioners are attempting to practice acupuncture by calling it "dry needling" with a few weekend seminars. Be wary of poorly trained practitioners! If you would like to be treated by someone who has a few weekend courses, I wish you the best of luck.

In summary, as a consumer you should be aware of the differences in education between providers and making a decision to have acupuncture treatment should be done carefully. If you should have any questions please feel free to contact us. You may also wish to review the Florida Board of Acupuncture Brochure. It is the position of the Florida Board of Acupuncture that dry needling is in fact the practice of acupuncture. Click here to see their position statement.

Acupuncture Physical Medicine (APM)

Acupuncture Physical Medicine (APM) is a modern approach to acupuncture developed over the past decades by Tri-State College of Acupuncture's (TSCA) founder, Mark Seem, Ph.D. Inspired by French and Japanese meridian styles of acupuncture, and the trigger point teachings of Dr. Janet Travell, APM assessment and treatment takes as its basis a patient­s actual, physical, lived experience of illness or distress. Rather than a theoretical textbook diagnosis, APM assessment of a patient focuses on palpation of the body for myofascial constrictions and holding patterns. It is a technique which is especially well suited for treating complex conditions such as chronic pain, chronic fatigue and chronic stress. This is the definitive training in acupuncture dry needling technique.

Japanese Meridian Style

Chinese acupuncture was introduced into Japan about 1500 years ago. The basic principles remained similar to the Chinese meridian system, but the treatment style became quite different. Japanese style practitioners generally use much finer needles, stimulate more superficially and gently, do not consider the strong needle sensation of importance. This is in contrast to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) whose practitioners tend to use larger needles and deeper needle insertion in order to induce strong needle sensation.

Through its own evolutionary process, Japanese acupuncture has taken on characteristics that are unique. These include a strong emphasis on palpation. In Japanese style acupuncture, the channels themselves are carefully examined to see if any abnormality can be found, in addition to the abdomen and the radial pulse (wrist). The abdomen and pulse are the two areas of the body that give the most detailed information to the overall state of a person's health as well as indicate any specific imbalances within the meridian system. In addition, the injured or painful area of the body is examined thoroughly. In the abdominal area, information is gathered by feeling for temperature variations, skin texture differences, areas of softness and hardness at different depths, and any other subtle sensations. The pulse is palpated on each wrist. The speed, strength, and depth, as well as relative strength and weakness are noted. Once the information is obtained, the approach involves balancing the meridians by supporting and nourishing Yin deficiency, while removing Yang excess.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Classical Chinese Medicine is the proper term to describe the full scope of healing practices and techniques developed in China over thousands of years. Traditional Chinese Medicine, often referred to by its acronym TCM, is a modern name for a formalized and systematized Classical Chinese Medicine that was developed in the People's Republic of China in the 1960's, in order to fit it into a Western style biomedical training paradigm. 

Kiiko Matsumoto Style Acupuncture (KM)

Kiiko Matsumoto Style Acupuncture (referred to as KM at the College), was developed by Kiiko Matsumoto over the past two decades in North America. KM style acupuncture utilizes a systematic, easy to learn, palpatory method which is designed to provide instant feedback. When using this system, a KM Style practitioner follows a palpation sequence, which both establishes a diagnosis and suggests several treatment options. Read more about Kiiko Matsumoto Style Acupuncture.

The Integrated Neuromuscular Acupoint System

The Integrated Neuromuscular Acupoint System (INMAS) is a clinical acupuncture medicine model characterized by reproducibility, predictability and standardization while still maintaining all the benefits of the classical acupuncture model. INMAS is based on biomedical research and clinical evidence collected over the past 40 years and was developed by Yun-tao Ma, PhD, LAc, Mila Ma, MD, LAc, and Zang Hee Cho, PhD.

The powerful, underlying neuro-immuno-endocrine mechanisms triggered by needling acupoints enable the body to activate built-in survival mechanisms representing a self-healing capacity of the living system. The INMAS model maintains all the benefits of classical acupuncture represented by the meridian styles of acupuncture; however the INMAS is based upon the biomedical model and represents the transition of classical acupuncture in a hi-tech society. The INMAS model does not contradict the classical acupuncture model and its underlying physiological mechanisms are identical.

The INMAS offers patients:

  • A neuro-anatomically and physiologically defined acupuncture system
  • A quantitative evaluation method which allows us to predict the prognosis of acupuncture treatments
  • A standardized yet individualized treatment protocol for the majority of patients

With the INMAS we can now:

  • Determine how patients may respond to acupuncture medicine treatments
  • Develop personalized treatment plans based a reproducible examination model
  • Prognosticate treatment outcomes based on a database of over 15,000 patients who have been treated using the INMAS protocols

Click here to visit The Tri-State College of Acupuncture website.