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popularity of Chinese Traditional acupuncture in the United Kingdom.
Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine that treats people by insertion and handling of solid, usually thin needles into the body. Through its beginnings, acupuncture has been deep-rooted in the notions of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Its general theory is based on the idea that bodily functions are synchronized by the flow of an energy-like entity called qi. Acupuncture tries to right inequities in the flow of qi by stimulus of anatomical locations on or under the skin called acupuncture points, most of which are linked by channels known as meridians. Scientific study has not found any bodily or organic correlate of qi, meridians and acupuncture points, and some modern practitioners needle the body without using an academic structure, instead choosing points because of their tenderness to pressure (Acupuncture: An Introduction, 2011).
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is becoming a more and more accepted form of complementary medicine in the UK. It is thought that about one million adults in Britain have had acupuncture and that a million herbal prescriptions are written every year. Even as little as ten years ago, TCM was still thought of as a border treatment and one would have been hard pressed to find a practitioner outside of London. Since then, complementary or alternative medicine has been flourishing, and Chinese medical centers have been opening on streets all around the country. "The Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM), the self-regulating body which embodies practitioners of Chinese herbal medicine, has seen its membership grow by on average 30% per year to about 350 members at present" (Chinese Cures for British Ills, n.d.).
There are a number of reasons behind the growing popularity of TCM. Among the general public there is a growing disenchantment with Western medicine which, in spite of remarkable results in the areas of surgery and a lot of acute diseases, is frequently incapable of dealing sufficiently with a lot of long-term, chronic illnesses. A lot of patients are also reluctant to take strong medication, of which the long-term side effects are not always known or understood. In recent years, the popularity of TCM has shaped part of an increased interest in the cultural traditions of both China and the Far East as a whole. "This has marked itself in a propagation of information on and practitioners of, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Feng Shui" (Chinese Cures for British Ills, n.d.).
There are quite a few colleges and institutions around the UK that have begun offering a wide variety of different course on TCM. Recently Middlesex University, in combination with Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, began offering a five-year, full-time degree in TCM. Elsewhere, healthcare professionals such as midwives and physiotherapists are able to do weekend courses on acupuncture, allowing them to use TCM as an extra for their own patients. And nearly all the big private health insurers such as BUPA and PPP now cover acupuncture, with a GP or consultant referral (Chinese Cures for British Ills, n.d.).
One example of where acupuncture could be used can be seen is that in the United Kingdom guidelines from the Royal College of General Practitioners advocate physiotherapy, chiropractic treatment, or osteopathy within six weeks of the onset of persistent back pain. The BMA recently published a report supporting the use of acupuncture as an alternative. In the United States, the National Institutes of Health have issued agreement statements supporting the use of hypnosis for pain connected to cancer and the use of acupuncture for pain and nausea. Acupuncture, hypnosis, and relaxation methods are incorporated in guidelines on the management of pain linked with cancer that have been endorsed by the U.S. National Comprehensive Cancer Network's. These shifts emphasize an enhanced awareness among researchers of the significance of complementary medicine and a better consciousness among complementary medicine practitioners of the significance of research. In the United Kingdom, the NHS recently funded two trials of acupuncture for treating chronic pain (Vickers, 2000).
Traditional acupuncture has been used for over two thousand years to ease back pain and British Acupuncture Council members have for a lot of years been successfully treating patients for this condition either in private practice or working within the NHS. In effect, thus, recent guidelines put into place are just a seal of approval on the positive work already being done as well as an endorsement of the wealth of research evidence now available in this area. Back pain affects over one million people in the UK with ninety five percent of people suffering from lower back pain troubles. Recent research has shown that acupuncture treatment can be effectual in treating back pain and introducing acupuncture treatment on the NHS would be very helpful for patients who are suffering from the one of the countries' main causes of work-related absence (BAcC responds to NICE guidelines re acupuncture for back pain on the NHS, 2009).
Complementary therapies are becoming more typical practices and there are a variety of organizations committed to promoting complementary therapy and encouraging more people to use it. There is also a growing acknowledgment among medical professionals and the general public that complementary therapies can play a significant role in healthcare. Members of the medical profession are accepting the benefits of complementary therapies for patients and a lot of General Practitioners are referring their patients to complementary therapists. "Organizations such as the Integrated Health Trust and The Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health have been put into place in order to promote the benefits of complementary therapies and campaign for the integration of complementary therapies with traditional medicine" (BAcC responds to NICE guidelines re acupuncture for back pain on the NHS, 2009).
Key Components of Professional Regulation
Acupuncture practice is presently not regulated by law in the UK although there are local authorities licensing arrangements for many practice premises. In practice, a lot of practitioners belong voluntarily to acupuncture organizations which are fairly meticulous in terms of codes of practice and educational requirements. Yet, as membership of these organizations is voluntary some acupuncture practitioners choose not to join (The Statutory Regulation of the Acupuncture Profession, 2003).
Currently it is thought that about 7,500 practitioners practice acupuncture to some extent and belong to a relevant professional or regulatory body. About 2,400 are traditional acupuncturists who mostly belong to the British Acupuncture Council, which necessitates its members to be trained in both traditional acupuncture and pertinent biomedical sciences. Roughly 2,200 registered doctors and other statutorily regulated health professionals belong to the British Medical Acupuncture Society. Some three thousand physiotherapists belong to the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists and two hundred and fifty nurses belong to the British Academy of Western Acupuncture. There are also practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine who belong to one or more associations (The Statutory Regulation of the Acupuncture Profession, 2003).
It is thought that there are somewhere between ten and twelve thousand people currently practicing some form of acupuncture in the UK. Of this number about four thousand practice traditional acupuncture, either as acupuncturists or TCM practitioners. There are around five thousand physiotherapists and three thousand medical doctors, who mainly practice western medical acupuncture as an addition to their primary therapy. There are also several hundred practitioners who practice auricular acupuncture, typically as part of a detoxification program (The Statutory Regulation of the Acupuncture Profession, 2003).
Currently there is no government legislation in the UK covering the practice of acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine and anyone can provide acupuncture or herbal medicine in spite of whether they have sufficient training. The BAcC is one of the professional bodies presently in discussion with the UK government concerning the future statutory regulation of acupuncture. It is anticipated that some form of regulation will be in place within the next three years for both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine (British Acupuncture Council (BAcC), 2012). The BAcC is presently calling for statutory regulation of the acupuncture profession in the UK, to be in line with other nations around the world (Statutory regulation for acupuncture, 2011).
It is vital for people to choose an acupuncturist who is registered with a professional body. British Acupuncture Council members have wide-ranging undergraduate degree level training in acupuncture and biomedical sciences fitting to the practice of acupuncture in the UK. They are bound by strict codes of ethics, and safe practice and professional conduct. Every patient who visits a British Acupuncture Council practitioner is given a complete consultation before treatment in order for a conventional diagnosis and treatment plan to be drawn up. The profession of traditional acupuncture carries on being a beneficial and effective therapy for a diversity of conditions and the meticulous consultation and diagnostic process is of vital importance to its effectiveness. "The British Acupuncture Council is working towards the forthcoming statutory regulation of acupuncture in order to make sure that the highest standards of professional excellence are upheld" (BAcC responds to NICE guidelines re acupuncture for back pain on the NHS, 2009).…[continue]
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