As Ontario moves forward in legal self-regulation of the profession of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine so does the awareness of the profession. Professionals are being streamlined into a common standard, but by no means does it mean that all acupuncture is the same. The difference lies, in the theory behind the combination of acupuncture points used, as well as the type of needles used, along with the style of needle stimulation practiced. Here are the most common forms of acupuncture and their differences between one another.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture is a philosophy that encompasses the body as a whole, discerning a diagnosis by observing signs and symptoms as well as pulse and tongue inspection. This will help differentiate a disharmony, and allow the practitioner to put together a protocol that will bring the body back into balance. The practice of TCM includes acupuncture, Chinese herbs, qi gong, Tuina (Chinese manipulative massage) as well as diet therapy.
Acupuncture practiced under TCM is the most documented over history and is still the most reliable in terms of empirical research supporting it.
Style: will vary from practitioner to practitioner but will incorporate the traditional most documented as well as the most commonly used acupuncture points according to textbook theory. Depth of needling will vary vastly as well as the amount and intensity of stimulation of the needling will vary based on the practitioner.
Japanese Style Acupuncture is a branch of acupuncture that arose from TCM, uses the theory of TCM for its diagnosis as well as most of the traditional acupuncture points, but has also evolved several acupuncture points that are unique to Japanese style acupuncture.
Style: In addition to a difference in acupuncture points, Japanese Style Acupuncture also is known for its thinner needles and much shallow insertion of needles. They also use lesser numbers of needles.
Korean Hand Acupuncture is a form of acupuncture that uses only your hands (needling only your hands), and views the hand as a microsystem for the whole body. Meaning the whole body is mapped out on the hand and specific point on your hand reflect parts of your body. A more familiar microsystem is reflexology, where the thought is that your body is mapped out on the bottom of your foot.
Auricular Acupuncture is another microsystem that exists on your ear. Practitioners can use only the ear to needle and help resolve health conditions throughout the entire body.
Medical Acupuncture is a newer concept that is based primarily on neurology, anatomy and physiology. Practitioners using this method will base their point selections on some TCM theory but primarily from a physiological perspective. Practitioners performing Medical Acupuncture are primarily from another regulated health profession, such as Medical Doctors, Nurses, Physiotherapists, Massage therapists are some of the examples. Medical Acupuncture is generally used to treat musculoskeletal conditions.
This is a brief synopsis of the types of acupuncture that you may have encountered or heard of. Understanding that not all acupuncture is the same is important in helping you discern the best form of treatment for you and your health. Every individual is different and may not be equally responsive to all treatments. Just as your doctor may prescribe different variations of drugs to see what you respond best to, acupuncture is much the same. Ensuring that you have a good fit for practitioner is just one key to helping your health, you should also explore to see what your body responds best to.
Source: Inside Toronto: Tao of Wellness