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Q: What protocols do all the acupuncturists follow also what legislation is most important to acupuncture?
A: A slightly difficult question to answer!
Taking the easier half first, since there is no statutory regulation of acupuncture practice, the only laws which directly apply to the practice of acupuncture are those to do with the safety and hygiene of premises. For most of the UK the relevant legislation is Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1982 as amended by the Local Government Act 2003. This requires every practitioner to register with the local authority's environmental health department, and requires a one-off fee for every practitioner in every premise where they work. Some authorities conduct annual inspections, but the majority don't.
The only exceptions are Greater London and Scotland. In Greater London, nearly all boroughs have adopted the London Local Authorities Act 1991 which requires acupuncturists to be licensed annually unless they belong to an exempt body, of which the BAcC is one. Statutorily regulated practitioners are also exempt from licensing. Although BAcC members are exempt from licensing there is a set of model requirements which they have to meet, largely the same as the BAcC's, and they have to notify the EHOs that they are working in a borough - exempt does not mean off the radar.
In Scotland the adoption of the new licensing system for skin piercing of all kinds in 2006 means that all acupuncture practitioners except those who are regulated by statute already are required to have an annual licence.
As far as ptotocols are concerned, the general requirements for acupuncture practice by BAcC members can be found at the website of the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board (http://baab.co.uk/downloads.html) where the Standards for the Practice of Acupuncture and the Standards for Education and Training in Acupuncture can be found. We must stress that these are BAcC standards; other acupuncture professionals can do pretty much what they want, although the majority aspire to similar levels of competence.
The word 'protocol' is also used in a much more specific context in Chinese medicine to describe treatment options and patterns which a practitioner might adopt for conditions as understood in Chinese medicine. Any of the textbooks by Giovannie Maciocia would be representative of this kind of approach. This is largely what is called 'TCM', a specific style of treatment. There are many others, and in a broad church like the BAcC there could not be a definitive list of protocols of this kind which was not exhaustive to the point of being useless. There are a number of majority styles in use, however, like TCM, Five Element and Stems and Branches, on which a google search will provide a wealth of detail. You will also find that there are conventional medical practitioners using acupuncture within three main styles - segmental, trigger point and neurophysiological. Again a google search will provide the background you need.
Q: Can acupuncture help with weight lose?
A: This question comes up relatively frequently, and one answer we gave was as follows:
Q. I am interested to know if acu will help with weight loss.
A. Weight loss was the subject of some critical scrutiny a decade ago, and the conclusion drawn at the time was that acupuncture did not have any significant effect on weight loss. However, trying to test whether acupuncture can help someone to reduce their weight is likely to be a difficult matter; there are dozens of reasons in Chinese medicine why someone's weight may be increasing. Trying to group together a sufficiently large number of patients whose western problem and eastern diagnosis are the same is extremely difficult.
In one or two cases there is a very direct correlation between someone's weight and their underlying imbalances from a Chinese medicine perspective. Correcting these may have an immediate impact on, say, the amount of fluid someone is carrying, and that could create a 3-5kg loss very quickly.
However, all of the best dietary programmes say that after the initial and often quite dramatic week or two most good weight loss programmes at best will see someone lose only a pound or two every month, and in fact, there is discouragement from trying to do more in order for the body's system to keep pace with the change. Acupuncture may well have been used successfully alongside some fairly strict dietary rules, and from a patient's perspective it would be very difficult to say whether the acupuncture treatment added value to what someone was doing already.
The bottom line is that there are are no 'magic' points which reduce someone's weight without effort, and the effect of acupuncture may be no more than to give someone the support and commitment to keep trying with diet and exercise programmes. However, if someone remains motivated as a consequence of acupuncturre treatment that itself would be a very positive outcome.
There is nothing that we would add to this advice other than to beware of anyone making promises they cannot keep about what acupuncture treatment can deliver. Some of the less reputable high street shops still appear to be making claims of a fairly speculative nature without any evidence which supports what they claim.
Q: I would like to find a qualified practitioner who uses massage to help clear sinus. The emphasis is on massage not acupuncture needles which I dislike.
A: This is rather difficult for us to answer - acupuncture is what we do!
That said, there are a number of our members who also use tui na, a form of Chinese massage based on the same fundamental principles as traditional acupuncture. This forms a part of the basic training of some of the teaching institutions, but not all, and we do not keep separate records of which aspects of acupuncture each individual member uses in their practice. In these cases we tend to rely on the fact that our members are often our best resource for providing someone with exactly what they need. There are five BAcC members listed for the Deal area, and if you contact any one of these and explain what it is that you need, we are confident that they will provide you with a suitable referral to a BAcC member in the area who uses tui na as you wish.
There are likely to be a number of other practitioners offering tui na in the area, and although we are sure that most belong to reputanle associations it is important to check that anyone you find is properly trained and fully insured. Even though tui na is non-invasive, like any healthcare practice there are always slight risks and one of the primary reasons why our members get so much business is that we provide the levels of professional protection for the public which reassures them about our service and our members.
Q: I have had a 'mystery' pain in my left arm for some time now. I think this was caused when I was out walking with my wife, who was holding my hand or to be more precise by two or three fingers, when she stumbled and pulled down hard on my fingers to steady herself. I have been to the doctor who told me to take some Iboprufen (not my preferred cure!) and the pain is with me still. It hurts most when i lift something or grasp and lift.
A: It would certainly be worth seeking out a BAcC member local to you and asking their advice on what acupuncture treatment might be able to achieve. There are a number of musculo-skeletal problems for which acupuncture has been shown to be successful, notably in the case of chronic back pain, and from a Chinese medicine perspective the problems often involve blockage and stagnation in the energy or 'qi' which flows around the body, caused by strain or injury. The removal of the blockage, usually with needles but sometimes using heat in the form of a burning herb called moxa, enables the body to resume its normal functionm. Without seeing exactly where the problem lies, however, it is difficult to pass on a more informed judgement. Some conditions, like tennis elbow, are relatively amenable to treatment, and there is an increasing number of studies which show that treatment may be beneficial. Other muscle or tendon strains, which is what this sounds like, can be more intractable.
Although it may not please some of our members to read this (because many physios use acupuncture and are often felt to be 'poaching' on our territory) this is a case where we believe an assessment by a physiotherapist or osteopath may also be a very valuable route to pursue. It may not simply a matter of removing pain; there are issues to do with re-building normal function involved, and the advice of an expert in the body's musculature and movement about what to avoid and what to do to build up one's strength again may be very useful. Our members work closely with a great many other health professionals and it is a part of their role and duty of care to ensure that a patient gets the care most appropriate to their needs.
Q: I just wanted to ask whether acupuncture has any benefit with chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia. I have been suffering with it for some time now and I desperately need some help, but Internet search doesnt prove or confirm its efficacy. Can you please give me some input on this, so I can go ahead and find an BAcC acupuncturist.
A: The problem with both of these conditions is that the research is not that good methodologically, nor entirely conclusive, as our two factsheets show.
One of the problems is that both conditions lack precise definition, and isolating test groups with exactly the same symptoms from the same underlying causes is extremely difficult.
One of the great strengths of Chinese medicine is that it can often make sense of some of the symptom groupings that characterise these problems in ways which relate directly to the functions of the Organs, as they are understood in Chinese medicine, and on the flow of energy, called 'qi', in the body. If this is the case, then a practitioner may feel considerable confidence in being able to effect some change for the better.
This is very much a judgement call based on the individual case, however, and we would not be able to say that, sight unseen, you would benefit from treatment. If you can find a BAcC member local to you who is happy to gove you a brief face to face assessment, hopefully without charge, they can tell you whether in their view acupuncture treatment may benefit you, and if not, what other alternative approaches they might recommend.