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Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in the United States

Posted on January 23rd, 2013 by | 4 views
Reprinted from The American Acupuncturist, Volume 47 with the permission of the American Association of Acupunture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM).

Oriental medicine's paradigm is based on a complex diagnostic system designed to both prevent and treat disease; it is well documented that preventing disease is the most cost-effective way to address health issues. A major health care paradigm shift is occurring in the United States, as evidenced by public demand. Oriental medicine provides time-tested medicine that meets this demand.

We believe it is vital to include acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) in any health care reform program seeking to safeguard and improve public health. Currently, Oriental medicine, inclusive of acupuncture and herbal medicine serves over a billion people globally‚ people who cannot afford more expensive and sometimes more dangerous forms of medicine, such as surgical procedures or incorrectly prescribed medications. To illustrate this we will discuss significant facts that focus on the value of acupuncture for America's healthcare, and we will explore the economic, social, and historical basis for this premise.

Traditional Chinese medicine (AOM) is a complex healthcare system comprised of interrelated components and presents a sophisticated theory. Since the last half of the 20th century, this medical system has been examined using a Western scientific approach The scientific inquiry that has been performed to date examines isolated parts of TCM (or AOM) such as looking at the effects of acupuncture needling alone rather than in conjunction with herbal medicine, massage, diet, etc. as TCM is practiced clinically. TCM is a whole body medical approach, but its scientific inquiry has largely been by performed within a reductionist framework. (Chinese herbs will be discussed in a subsequent entry.)

Five main areas are covered in this paper: the definition, practice and current status of acupuncture in the U.S.; its cost-effectiveness; its safety; its integration into existing healthcare settings; and acupuncture's mechanisms of action through the lens of scientific research, including results from human clinical trials.

To read the entire article, click here to download the PDF.

The American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) was founded in 1981 to be the unifying force for American acupuncturists committed to high ethical and educational standards and a well-regulated profession to ensure the safety of the public. As the sole national professional AOM association, its mission statement is To promote excellence and integrity in the professional practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine in order to enhance public health and well-being. For more information, please visit

The Society for Acupuncture Research (SAR), founded in 1993, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to promote, advance and disseminate scientific inquiry into Oriental medicine systems, which include acupuncture, herbal therapy and other modalities. We value quantitative and qualitative research addressing clinical efficacy, physiological mechanisms, patterns of use and theoretical foundations. For more information, please visit

American Association of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine
PO Box 162340
Sacramento, CA 95816
Society for Acupuncture Research
Richard Harris, PhD, Co-President


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