Resources

Resources for Practitioners

New Practitioners

Welcome to a growing profession. The following resources are not exclusive or comprehensive and are provided as general guidance.

Professional Liability Insurance

Even before you get licensed, you can get postgraduate/pre-license liability insurance that covers you when you are assisting or volunteering. The ASA has partnered with CM&F. They offer a combined policy that covers you and your location.

Location Liability Insurance

If your professional liability does not cover your locations.

Open a business bank account

This will be required for many insurance programs, contracting jobs, or employment.  Use it to pay for business expenses.

Setting Up a Business

Select a Business Type

Sole proprietorship doing business as (DBA) your business name, partnership, limited liability company, or corporation.

Apply for state, city, and or county business permits

It is often required to post these in a public area of the clinic.

Apply for a free EIN (tax ID number)

This must be done before registering your business for taxes or completing a W2 or W9 for contracting work.

Register your business for taxes

This includes state, city, and county. This can be done in conjunction with applying for permits and tax exemption if you are going to resell items.

Register with CAQH

or other third-party verifier of licensure and insurance coverage.

Consider accounting software

such as QuickBooks, which can pull data directly from bank account and credit cards.

Consider management software

such as Jane or Unified Practice, which can house all patient data and medical encounters on a secure cloud. Many packages offer scheduling, billing, and forms.

Business Forms

while many management software packages, form are standard, such as informed consent, practice policies, Agreement, and signature on file for filing insurance claims on behalf of patient.

Downloadable Documents

Additional Resources

Teaching Resources for Practitioners

Become a National Provider

Want to teach? Consider becoming a Professional Development Activity (PDA) provider for NCCAOM. Visit here for more information.

    Some PDA Provider Benefits

    Represent the profession, use the NCCAOM PDA Provider Digital Badge, enjoy approved course advertising opportunities, and more! Visit here for more information.

    Education Resources for Practitioners

    Acupuncture Doctoral Programs

    Ready for the next step in your career and want to search various programs by state, language, and focus? Visit here for more information.

    Education Events

    Visit the education opportunities section for the latest advertised local and national PDA or CEU events.

    Herbal Medicine for Practitioners

    Introduction to Chinese Herbs

    Visit this page to learn about Chinese herb history, herbal pharmacology, single herbs, and formulas.

    Herbal Medicine Resources

    Visit this area for more information on Herbal medicine regulation and resources.

    Resources for Patients & the Public

    Medical Practice Act and Scope

    Understanding Acupuncture Medical Practice Acts and Scopes of Practice in the United States

    Acupuncture, an ancient healing practice originating from traditional Chinese medicine, has gained popularity in the United States as an integrative component of the U.S. healthcare system or alternative to mainstream medicine. To ensure the safe and effective delivery of acupuncture services, each state in the U.S. has established specific regulations known as Medical Practice Acts. These acts define the legal framework within which acupuncturists can practice, outlining their scope of practice and setting guidelines for licensure, education, and patient care. In this article, we will delve into the general state acupuncture Medical Practice Acts and Scopes of Practice to help you understand the regulatory landscape surrounding acupuncture in the U.S.

    What are Medical Practice Acts?

    Medical Practice Acts refer to state laws that govern the practice of medicine, including acupuncture. These acts are designed to protect public health and safety by ensuring that healthcare practitioners meet specific standards of education, training, and ethical conduct. They establish the legal requirements for licensing and outline the scope of practice for various healthcare professions, including acupuncturists.

    Acupuncture Scope of Practice

    The scope of practice for acupuncturists varies slightly from state to state. However, there are certain core elements that are commonly included in the scope of practice for licensed acupuncturists across the United States. These typically encompass the following:

    • Diagnosis and Assessment: Acupuncturists are trained to conduct thorough patient assessments, including evaluating medical history, physical examination, and assessing the patient’s energy imbalances or disruptions.
    • Acupuncture Treatment: Acupuncturists are authorized to perform acupuncture techniques, which involve the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body to promote balance and stimulate the body’s natural healing response.
    • Adjunctive Techniques: In addition to acupuncture, licensed acupuncturists may use other complementary techniques such as cupping, moxibustion (heat therapy), herbal medicine, and lifestyle recommendations to support their patients’ overall well-being.
    • Patient Education: Acupuncturists often play a crucial role in educating patients about healthy lifestyle practices, stress management, dietary modifications, and self-care techniques that can enhance the effectiveness of treatment and promote long-term wellness.

    Licensure and Education

    To practice acupuncture legally, acupuncturists must meet the licensing requirements set forth by their respective state’s Medical Practice Act. These requirements typically include completing an accredited acupuncture program, passing national board examinations, and obtaining a state license. The exact educational and training standards can vary from state to state, but they generally involve a comprehensive curriculum covering acupuncture theory, anatomy, physiology, diagnostics, and clinical training.

    Importance of Medical Practice Acts

    Medical Practice Acts provide a vital framework for ensuring the safety, competency, and accountability of acupuncturists. By setting clear guidelines and standards, these acts protect patients from unqualified practitioners and maintain the integrity of the profession. They also facilitate collaboration with other healthcare providers, ensuring that acupuncturists work within a broader healthcare system to provide holistic and integrated care to patients.

    Understanding the Medical Practice Acts and Scopes of Practice is essential for both acupuncturists and patients seeking acupuncture services in the United States. By adhering to these regulations, licensed acupuncturists can provide safe and effective care while promoting the well-being of their patients. It is important to consult your state’s specific Medical Practice Act and seek treatment from licensed acupuncturists to ensure the highest standards of care and professionalism.

    Exploring Acupuncture and Related Modalities: A Comprehensive Guide

    Acupuncture, originating from Chinese medicine, has gained recognition and popularity in the U.S as an effective form of medicine. This article aims to provide a basic overview of acupuncture and related modalities commonly practiced in the field. We will explore the benefits, techniques, and applications of acupuncture, moxibustion, infrared heat lamp therapy, low light laser therapy, injection therapy, cupping, gua sha, tui na massage, and herbal medicine.

    Acupuncture

    Acupuncture is the core modality within the practice of Chinese medicine. It involves the insertion of thin, sterile needles into specific points on the body to stimulate blood movement, improve nerve conductivity, restore function, or enhance balance. Acupuncture is known to provide relief for a wide range of conditions, including pain management, stress reduction, fertility support, digestive disorders, and respiratory conditions. There is a range of acupuncture techniques, such as acupuncture with electric stimulation, bloodletting, and trigger therapy release. There is also a ranch of approaches such as meridians (peripheral nervous system), microsystems, scalp, post-stroke, bone needling, and nerve release. To determine the best course of action, Chinese medical acupuncturists will engage in basic questions and advanced assessment to establish a differential diagnosis. For more information on this aspect, see Chinese Medicine Theory (link to the that topic).

    Moxibustion

    Moxibustion is a technique often used in conjunction with acupuncture. It involves the burning of mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) near specific acupuncture points or areas of the body to promote healing and improve function. Moxibustion can be performed directly or indirectly, and it is particularly beneficial for conditions involving cold or stagnation.

    Infrared Heat Lamp Therapy

    Infrared heat lamp therapy utilizes special lamps that emit infrared radiation to penetrate the body’s tissues. This therapy can be used as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with acupuncture. The gentle heat from the lamps helps promote circulation, relax muscles, and alleviate pain and inflammation.

    Low Light Laser Therapy

    Low light laser therapy, also known as cold laser therapy or photobiomodulation, involves the application of low-intensity lasers to specific points or areas of the body. This non-invasive treatment stimulates cellular activity, enhances tissue repair, reduces inflammation, and relieves pain. Low light laser therapy is commonly used for musculoskeletal conditions, wound healing, and dermatological issues.

    Injection Therapy

    Although this adjunct modality is part of accredited programs and included in textbooks, there is a required step to involve state pharmacy boards to determine acceptable agents that licensed acupuncturists can procure. In some states, licensed acupuncturists may have the scope to offer injection therapy as an adjunct to acupuncture treatment. This involves the injection of natural substances such as vitamins, homeopathic remedies, or herbal extracts into specific acupuncture points or affected areas. Injection therapy can provide targeted support for pain management, inflammation reduction, and tissue healing.

    Cupping

    Cupping involves placing special cups on the skin to create suction. This therapy helps promote blood flow, release tension, and alleviate muscle soreness. Cupping is often used for musculoskeletal conditions, respiratory issues, and detoxification.

    Gua Sha

    Gua sha is a technique that involves scraping the skin using a smooth-edged tool. This therapeutic scraping motion helps release stagnation, improve circulation, and relieve muscle tension. Gua sha is commonly utilized for pain management, immune support, and detoxification.

    Tui Na Massage

    Tui na is a form of Chinese therapeutic massage that combines various manual techniques and manipulation, including, kneading, stretching, and joint mobilization. Tui na helps promote circulation, relieve muscle tension, and address dysfunction. It is often used in conjunction with acupuncture for musculoskeletal issues, stress reduction, and overall wellness.

    Herbal Medicine

    Herbal medicine is an integral component of traditional Chinese medicine. It involves the use of natural substances, such as plants, minerals, and animal products, to restore balance and support healing. Herbal prescriptions are tailored to individual needs and can be used internally or externally to address a wide range of conditions.

    Chinese Medicine Theory

    Understanding Chinese Medicine Theory

    Chinese medicine, rooted in ancient wisdom, provides a holistic approach to healthcare that aims to prevent or restore health, function, and balance. This article provides brief descriptions of the most basic Chinese medicine theories. We will explore key concepts such as meridian theory, yin and yang, the three vital fluids, the four levels, the five elements, the six syndromes, the seven evils, and the eight principles. Note: Please keep in mind that these are brief descriptions of complex theories in traditional Chinese medicine. They serve as introductory explanations and should not be considered exhaustive or comprehensive.

    Meridian Theory

    Meridian theory forms on of the many foundations of Chinese medicine. It describes a network of energetic pathways, known as meridians, through which Qi (vital energy) flows. These meridians overlap with the nervous system to connect specific organs and body systems. The term, “Qi” is an umbrella for movement (fluids, muscle firing, nerve conduction) and function. Acupuncture points along meridians overlap or connect with the nervous system. Stimulation in these areas results in a variety of outcomes depending on direction, depth, and technique.

    Yin and Yang

    Yin and yang represent the fundamental duality and interdependence found in nature and within the human body. Yin encompasses qualities such as darkness, coolness, and substance, while yang represents qualities like light, warmth, and activity. In Chinese medicine, health is achieved when yin and yang are in dynamic balance. Imbalances between these forces can lead to various health issues, and the goal of treatment is to restore equilibrium.

    Three Vital Fluids

    Chinese medicine recognizes three vital fluids that circulate within the body: Qi, Blood, and Body Fluids. Qi is the vital substance that animates and nourishes the body. Blood carries nutrients and oxygen to tissues. Body Fluids can be beneficial or pathogenic.

    Four Levels Theory

    The Four Levels Theory is a diagnostic framework in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that assesses the progression of disease through four energetic levels: Wei (Defense), Qi (Qi), Ying (Nutritive), and Xue (Blood). Each level represents a different layer of the body, and imbalances or pathogenic factors can manifest at these levels. The theory helps practitioners understand the progression and location of the disease, guiding the selection of appropriate treatments and therapies.

    Five Elements Theory

    The Five Elements Theory is a fundamental concept in TCM that categorizes phenomena into five elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. These elements correspond to various organs, tissues, emotions, and other aspects of the human body and the natural world. The theory emphasizes the dynamic relationships and interactions between the elements, helping practitioners understand patterns of disharmony and design treatment strategies to restore balance.

    Six Syndromes Theory

    The Six Syndromes Theory, also known as the Six Stages Theory, describes the progression of disease and the body’s response to pathogenic factors. It categorizes diseases into six stages: Tai Yang, Yang Ming, Shao Yang, Tai Yin, Shao Yin, and Jue Yin. Each stage represents a different level of disease progression and symptoms, guiding practitioners in identifying the underlying patterns and selecting appropriate treatment approaches to restore health.

    Seven Evils Theory

    The Seven Evils Theory refers to a set of external pathogenic factors that can disrupt the body’s balance and cause disease in TCM. These evils include Wind, Cold, Heat, Dampness, Dryness, Summer Heat, and Fire. Each evil has specific qualities and affects different body systems. By understanding the nature of these pathogenic factors, practitioners can diagnose and treat conditions associated with their influence, employing therapies to expel or counteract their effects.

    Eight Principles Theory

    The Eight Principles Theory is a diagnostic framework that analyzes patterns of disharmony by assessing eight fundamental principles: Yin and Yang, Exterior and Interior, Cold and Heat, and Deficiency and Excess. These principles describe the nature and characteristics of a patient’s condition, helping practitioners identify imbalances and select appropriate treatment strategies. The theory provides a systematic approach to diagnosis and forms the basis for individualized treatment plans.

    Resources for Policy Makers

    Acupuncture Regulation

    Forty-seven states (and the District of Columbia) have practice acts in place to define and regulate the practice of acupuncture. Of these 47 states, 22 states require National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) Board Certification to issue an acupuncture license while 26 states use NCCAOM examinations as at least a portion of the licensure requirements.

    The NCCAOM is a not-for-profit organization in the United States that aims to “establish, assess, and promote recognized standards of competence and safety in acupuncture and Oriental medicine for the protection and benefit of the public.

    Medicare Covered Acupuncture

    Currently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) covers acupuncture for chronic low back pain but licensed / qualified acupuncturists cannot directly submit claims to Medicare. While the licensed / qualified acupuncturist medical service is recognized, they are not considered qualified Medicare providers.

    H.R. 3133 – Acupuncture for Our Seniors Act of 2023 – will codify licensed / qualified acupuncturists as providers under Medicare who can work and bill independently as licensed / qualified acupuncturists.

    Herbal Medicine Regulation

    Dietary supplements and good manufacturing practices are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    Policies

    1. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 – US Food and Drug Administration . Read Full Act
    2. FDA Industry Guidance on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Products and their Regulation by the Food and Drug Administration.
      Read Full Article
    3. Dietary Supplement and Non-Prescription Drug Act. United States Government Printing Office; Washington, DC, USA: 2006. Public Law 109–462.
    4. Current Good Manufacturing Practice in Manufacturing, Packaging, Labeling, or Holding Operations for Dietary Supplements: Final Rule. Read Here

    Guidance

    1. Herb-Drug Interactions – Chen X.W., Sneed K.B., Pan S.Y., Cao C., Kanwar J.R., Chew H., Zhou F. Herb-drug interactions and mechanistic and clinical considerations. Curr. Drug Metab. 2012;13:640–651. doi: 10.2174/1389200211209050640.
    2. FDA on Botanical Drugs and Supplements – Read Here

    Additional Resources

    Journals

    Publications

    Nierhaus T, Chang Y, Liu B, Shi X, Yi M, Witt CM, Pach D. Somatosensory Stimulation With XNKQ Acupuncture Modulates Functional Connectivity of Motor Areas. Front Neurosci. 2019 Mar 11;13:147. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2019.00147. PMID: 30914909; PMCID: PMC6421982.
    Read Full Article

    Khan MNA, Ghafoor U, Yoo HR, Hong KS. Acupuncture enhances brain function in patients with mild cognitive impairment: evidence from a functional-near infrared spectroscopy study. Neural Regen Res. 2022 Aug;17(8):1850-1856. doi: 10.4103/1673-5374.332150. PMID: 35017448; PMCID: PMC8820726.
    Read Full Article

    Matos LC, Machado JP, Monteiro FJ, Greten HJ. Understanding Traditional Chinese Medicine Therapeutics: An Overview of the Basics and Clinical Applications. Healthcare (Basel). 2021 Mar 1;9(3):257. doi: 10.3390/healthcare9030257. PMID: 33804485; PMCID: PMC8000828.
    Read Full Article

    Acupuncture Practice in Military Medical Treatment Facilities

    Establishes procedures to expand the availability and utilization of acupuncture as a non-pharmacologic therapy for acute and chronic pain as an essential element of the Military Health Service Pain Management Campaign, and guidance for implementing tiered acupuncture training, privileging, and documentation and to support the clinical practice of acupuncture by designated clinical staff throughout the Department of Defense, as a complement to existing pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic therapies. This guidance applies to all military medical treatment facilities and staff supporting the delivery of healthcare to beneficiaries. See Defense Health Agency Procedural Instruction. Acupuncture Practice in Military Medical Treatment Facilities. Found at https://www.health.mil/Reference-Center/DHA-Publications/2020/02/20/DHA-PI-6025-33

    A Protocol of a Guideline to Establish the Evidence Ecosystem of Acupuncture

    “Acupuncture clinical practice should be based on high-quality evidence, which could help in decision-making. Thus, acupuncture research should provide sufficient data to enable funders, reviewers, and steering committees to appraise the scientific and methodological rigor of the studies, and for the researchers to replicate and implement these studies.

    The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization placed acupuncture on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and this therapy had been deemed safe and effective. Acupuncture is an important Chinese medicine treatment method suitable for a wide spectrum of diseases. More than 60,000 randomized controlled trials 6,000 systematic reviews, and 1,000 recommendations had been published, while some studies were published in top journals which promoted the use of acupuncture worldwide.”

    See Wang Q, Li N, Li J, He Y, Li Y, Zhong D, Liu X, Fan J, Jin R, Kang D, Zhang Y. A Protocol of a Guideline to Establish the Evidence Ecosystem of Acupuncture. Front Med (Lausanne). 2022 Feb 15;8:711197. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2021.711197. PMID: 35252220; PMCID: PMC8896352.
    Found at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8896352/

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How do I become a member or renew my membership?

    Go to the Become a Member page or Renew membership page.

    What are the benefits of membership?

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    Can I make quarterly payments?

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    How do I join the American Society of Acupuncture (ASA)?

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    Whate are the different optoins for Sponsorship?

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