Acupuncture Training In The Last 40 Years

| April 23, 2010 | 0 Comments | 153 views

When acupuncture appeared on the western scene in the beginning of the seventies, the few medical acupuncturists who existed and practiced, mostly in Europe, had to face many problems: the exaggerated enthusiasm of some, the staunch skepticism of others, the gullibility of many of those who, without any medical training whatsoever, fell on the first Chinese they met who said he was an acupuncturist and, of course, of the fifth generation, asking very high tuition fees for a very basic and often insufficient teaching.

This happened after President Nixon went to China in 1972 with a group of journalists. They were shown major surgical operations which were performed under acupuncture anesthesia. Then James Reston, editorialist of the New York Times, suffered from acute appendicitis and was operated (under medical anesthesia) at the Hospital for Foreigners in Beijing. When he woke up his abdomen was painful. He received then an acupuncture treatment and felt relieved. This he wrote in his editorial a few days later. So through the media (including the 200 other journalists who had accompanied Nixon) the world discovered the apparent power of acupuncture in anesthetizing a patient, but also that the technique could also be used to treat pain and other ailments.

By the way acupuncture anesthesia is not a correct expression. One should say acupuncture hypoalgesia, because the patients still feel a bearable pain (when the whole process is a success).

The news spread like fire. Every newspaper, magazine, radio or TV program had to produce something on the topic. It was the big rush to the Far East: trips to China, interviews of any Chinese who claimed to be an experienced acupuncturist (how to verify?), and the registering of amazing claims of cures.

Even the members of the medical world went to China, witnessed the operations under acupuncture anesthesia and talked to practitioners who had been treating patients with the technique in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and wherever there was a chinese diaspora. The opinions of the medical visitors went from enthusiastic acceptance to plain refusal for scientific reasons. But the general public was very much attracted by this somewhat exotic and mysterious way of treatment and started to look desperately for practitioners to treat all kinds of disorders.

A few medical doctors had received a proper training, whether in the Far East or in their own country. In the latter case the contents of the education were sometimes far from what the authentic Chinese practitioners used to teach. The straightforward medical acupuncturists had to fight against the fantasies and inventions of many westerners, because actually you did not have to prove what you said. It was enough to declare that it was in the "sacred books", which terminated the discussion or the argument, whether 'it' was really or not in these books.

So acupuncture lessons were given within associations, or even in private, like the Chinese masters did, and those who wanted to know how to learn acupuncture had sometimes difficulties in finding proper courses on how to do acupuncture. But on the whole the situation did not degenerate too much and there was, in nearly every country, at least one acupuncture school providing decent education. The state of affairs was slightly modified when the concept of distant learning appeared, and more after Internet became an important if not the principal means of communication.

However even up to now it has not been used very much for acupuncture training because it cannot offer the "practical" aspects. Still nowadays in many associations the teaching is much more theoretical than practical, which is not dramatic for a physician who knows anatomy and physiology, but yes for those who, without any medical knowledge, embarked on this adventure. There are still many courses where you don't even verify on your colleagues or partner students the location of points under the supervision of a teacher or even see a patient during the whole studies. So learning acupuncture online did not become such an aberration, provided one could, if necessary, provide somehow the possibility of a practical training.

Individual training with a master, participating in organized courses whether in the Far East or at home, and acupuncture courses online are the three existing possibilities. Each of them have their advantages and their limitations.

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Category: Acupuncture Training

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