The Safety of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Friday, October 8th, 2010

We, at the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) and the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), are very proud of the outstanding safety record acupuncture and Oriental Medical practices have achieved over the long history of their use in our country. We take any reports of adverse effects from acupuncture, especially reports of deaths, very seriously and note that not a single death has been reported to result from acupuncture in the US. While promoters of most medical practices would consider a world-wide average of less than 2 deaths out of tens of millions of patients a year to be a remarkably low level of risk, we find these numbers unacceptable, and other Oriental approaches to medicine, are completely preventable when standards of competent practice are followed.

Over the past 40 years, high standards of training, certification, and practice have been established within the American acupuncture and Oriental medical profession. Periodically, reports surface about the safety of acupuncture, an often these reports represent incomplete or inaccurate information. However, they are a reminder that, while acupuncture is a highly effective and valuable form of healthcare, it is not an entirely risk-free medical procedure, and should only be administered by practitioners with the proper training who follow accepted guidelines of practice. We urge the American public to seek-out only qualified, state licensed acupuncturists and Oriental medical professionals who are also nationally certified by the NCCAOM when accessing these increasingly popular services and we call on the media to help us spread this message.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), numerous surveys show that of all the complementary and holistic medical practices, of which there are many, acupuncture enjoys the most credibility in the medical community. Over 500 clinical trials measuring the efficacy of acupuncture have been conducted in the past three decades. At least fifty systematic reviews of these trials (as profiled in the Cochrane Library) have been completed by researchers from credible institutions, such as the Mayo Clinic, resulting in substantial evidence that acupuncture is more effective than sham acupuncture and that acupuncture is very effective in treating chronic pain, fatigue, anxiety, arthritis, headaches, chemotherapy sickness, and infertility, among other ailments.

At the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM), we believe that articles like Dr. Ernst’s are a damaging disservice to the American public. As a society, we need new and creative solutions to confront our healthcare crisis and improve the overall health and wellness of our citizens. This requires integrating the best from both eastern (AOM) and western (allopathic) approaches to improve how we prevent and treat pain and illness, and realize optimal health and healing.

Christian M. Ellis
Executive Director
American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Kory Ward-Cook
Executive Director
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

If you would like more information about the AAAOM or NCCAOM, please contact Doug Newton, Operations Manager, AAAOM: (916) 443-4770 dnewton@aaaomonline.org or Mina Larson, Director of Public, Professional, and Regulatory Affairs, NCCAOM at 703-314-2908.

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