THE ACUPUNCTURE PROFESSION TODAY
Acupuncture is one of the market leaders in complementary medical services in the UK and the US. Although it has lagged behind chiropractic in Canada, this trend is changing. As there is increased demand for acupuncture services, the need for professional entry-level courses increases. Ontario is in the process of regulating acupuncture, which both reflects the increasing interest of Canadians in this modality and will considerably enhance its standing as a medical practice amongst the general population.
The Canadian government’s website www.cbsc.org has a section on ‘Starting an Alternative and Complementary Health Care Business’. This is their Industry Overview from 2005:
“Alternative health care is a growing industry in Canada. The most recent National Population Health Survey by Statistics Canada (1998/99) found that 3.8 million Canadians aged 18 and over had consulted an alternative health care provider at least once during the previous 12 months. Alternative health care providers for the study included, for example, massage therapists, homeopaths, herbalists and acupuncturists. This represented a 2% increase in consultations from the previous study of 1994/95.
The Fraser Institute published a report on the use of complementary/alternative medicine by Canadians and found that during the 1997 calendar year, Canadians spent approximately $1.8 billion out of pocket on visits to complementary and/or alternative health care providers and an additional $2 billion on herbs, vitamins, diet programs and books.
Some types of alternative health care are more commonly used than others in Canada. In their study, the Fraser Institute identified the following practices as most commonly used: chiropractic (36%), relaxation techniques (23%), massage (23%), herbal therapies (17%), acupuncture (12%) and homeopathy (8%).
The Statistics Canada study examining patterns of use of alternative health care in Canada found that the use is higher among women, people with higher education and higher income, people experiencing chronic conditions or pain and in Western Canadians (explained in part due to more flexible provincial health care plans). Further, it concluded that Canadians were visiting alternate health care providers not as an alternative to conventional medicine, but rather to complement it.
It is speculated that the demand for services within the alternative healthcare industry will continue to grow, fueled in part by Canada’s aging population and the increase in chronic illness.”
“In the past two decades, acupuncture has grown in popularity in the United States. The report from a Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture held at the National Institutes of Health in 1997 stated that acupuncture is being “widely” practiced–by thousands of physicians, dentists, acupuncturists, and other practitioners–for relief or prevention of pain and for various other health conditions. According to the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (the largest and most comprehensive survey of complementary and alternative medicine use by American adults to date) an estimated 8.2 million U.S. adults had ever used acupuncture, and an estimated 2.1 million U.S. adults had used acupuncture in the previous year.”
Information taken from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (the Federal Government’s lead agency for scientific research on complementary and alternative medicine), a department of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“Although sometimes described merely as a means of pain relief, traditional acupuncture is actually used to treat people with a wide range of illnesses. Its focus is on improving the overall wellbeing of the patient, rather than the isolated treatment of specific symptoms. The skill of an acupuncturist lies in their ability to make a traditional diagnosis from what is often a complex pattern of disharmony. The exact pattern and degree of disharmony is unique to each individual and so following diagnosis, the acupuncturist puts together a personalised treatment plan.
The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) has a membership of over 2,800 professionally qualified acupuncturists. It is the UK’s largest professional body for the practice of acupuncture. BAcC members practise a traditional, holistic style of acupuncture diagnosis and treatment based on what has been developed and refined over 2,000 years. To achieve BAcC membership, practitioners must first undertake extensive training in traditional acupuncture (minimum three years’ full-time or part-time equivalent), which includes physiology, anatomy and other biomedical sciences appropriate for practice.”
British Acupuncture Council www.acupuncture.org.uk