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An acupuncturist is an individual who practices the medical art of acupuncture. Acupuncture is a classical and traditional Asian practice that originated in China over a thousand years ago. It is believed to promote natural healing and proper functioning of the body. It is believed that acupuncture may help with ailments such as headache, arthritis, low-back pain, fibromyalgia, carpal-tunnel syndrome and even infertility.
Acupuncture is one of the oldest healing arts and, while its origins are in China, it is practiced around the world. It is based on the idea that there is a natural flow and balance of the energy in the human body. The Chinese call this energy Qi (pronounced "chee"). Qi is believed to flow through energy channels known as meridians. When the body is healthy the energy flows smoothly and in a state of balance.
When the flow of Qi is obstructed at the meridians, it is believed to cause a variety of health problems. Small needles are inserted at the required meridians of the body to free any blockage and to stimulate the free flow of Qi in the body. This is believed to help the body return to a natural and healthy state of balance and function.
Acupuncture started to gain greater exposure and acceptance in the Western world in the mid to late 20th century. While there is still controversy about the merits and validity of acupuncture, there does seem to be growing recognition that acupuncture may indeed have positive therapeutic effects. Western medical science holds to the belief that acupuncture works not necessarily because it restores balance to the energy in the human body, but through the stimulation of the body’s nervous system. As the small needles are inserted along the body’s meridians, it is believed that they stimulate nerves in the body. The nerves signal the brain to release chemicals, which may block the sensation of pain.
The process of acupuncture therapy is essentially painless, although a patient may feel a slight sting when the needles are first inserted. Once inserted, the acupuncture practitioner determines the specific amount of time that they need to remain in the body. On the average, an acupuncture treatment generally lasts approximately 20-30 minutes.
There are generally two types of licensed acupuncture practitioners: a medical acupuncturist and a licensed acupuncturist. A medical acupuncturist is a physician who is also licensed to practice acupuncture while a licensed acupuncturist is an individual licensed to practice acupuncture.
Generally speaking, a licensed acupuncturist devotes a greater percentage of his practice on acupuncture than a physician who is licensed to perform acupuncture. The licensed acupuncturist typically has more of an educational background in traditional Chinese medicine, while a medical acupuncturist has a traditional medical education with additional training in the field of acupuncture.
This does not mean that one is, by nature, more qualified than another. There are widely held views as to which form of practitioner is most effective. Individuals interested in acupuncture should consult their doctor or health care provider for more information and guidance.