Next Article in Journal
Cytotoxic and Antimicrobial Constituents from the Essential Oil of Lippia alba (Verbenaceae)
Next Article in Special Issue
A Population-Based Cohort Study on the Ability of Acupuncture to Reduce Post-Stroke Depression
Previous Article in Journal
Essential Oils and Their Components as Modulators of Antibiotic Activity against Gram-Negative Bacteria
Previous Article in Special Issue
The Pilot Study of Evaluating Fluctuation in the Blood Flow Volume of the Radial Artery, a Site for Traditional Pulse Diagnosis
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessOpinion
Medicines 2016, 3(3), 21;

Why We Need Minimum Basic Requirements in Science for Acupuncture Education

Department of Clinical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80526, USA
Academic Editors: Gerhard Litscher and William Chi-shing Cho
Received: 21 June 2016 / Revised: 26 July 2016 / Accepted: 1 August 2016 / Published: 5 August 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Acupuncture – Basic Research and Clinical Application)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [238 KB, uploaded 19 August 2016]   |  


As enthusiasm for alternatives to pharmaceuticals and surgery grows, healthcare consumers are turning increasingly to physical medicine modalities such as acupuncture. However, they may encounter obstacles in accessing acupuncture due to several reasons, such as the inability to locate a suitable practitioner, insufficient reimbursement for treatment, or difficulty gaining a referral due to perceived lack of evidence or scientific rigor by specialists. Claims made about a range of treatment paradigms outstrip evidence and students in acupuncture courses are thus led to believe that the approaches they learn are effective and clinically meaningful. Critical inquiry and critical analysis of techniques taught are often omitted, leading to unquestioning acceptance, adoption, and implementation into practice of approaches that may or may not be rational and effective. Acupuncture education for both licensed physicians (DOs and MDs) and non-physicians needs to include science (i.e., explanation of its effects based on contemporary explanations of biological processes), evidence, and critical thinking. Erroneous notions concerning its mechanisms such as moving “stuck Qi (Chi)” or “energy” with needles and that this energy stagnates at specific, tiny locations on the body called acupuncture points lead to mistakes in methodologic design. For example, researchers may select sham and verum point locations that overlap considerably in their neural connections, leading to nonsignificant differences between the two interventions. Furthermore, attributing the effects of acupuncture to metaphorical and arcane views of physiology limits both acceptance and validation of acupuncture in both research and clinical settings. Finally, the content and quality of education and clinical exposure across acupuncture programs varies widely, with currently no minimum basic educational requirements in a scientific methodology. Considering the pressures mounting on clinicians to practice in an evidence-based and scientific manner that also demonstrates cost-effectiveness, acupuncture schools and continuing medical education (CME) courses need to provide their students a strong foundation in rational approaches supported by research. View Full-Text
Keywords: acupuncture; education; evidence-based acupuncture; education; evidence-based

Graphical abstract

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Robinson, N.G. Why We Need Minimum Basic Requirements in Science for Acupuncture Education. Medicines 2016, 3, 21.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Medicines EISSN 2305-6320 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top