An article was posted yesterday from news.discovery.com titled, “Acupuncture Can Spread Tuberculosis, Researchers Warn.” That is one big scary title about an isolated incident from 2011 in China, right? Well, before I let my yang blow through the roof let’s talk about the validity of the risks involved in acupuncture. The practice of inserting needles into the body does hold a risk of spreading disease when not done properly. This does not just pose a risk for acupuncturists. This includes any medical profession where needles are inserted into the body. Even going to get your blood drawn runs a risk of infection and the spread of disease. That is why medical professionals go to great lengths to make sure they take every precaution necessary to prevent any risk of contamination or infection. In fact, acupuncturists take great pride in the how few incidents happen in the United States each year. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated, “Acupuncture can be considered inherently safe in the hands of well trained practitioners.”
How much goes into an acupuncturist’s training?
Acupuncture students at the Midwest College of Oriental Medicine (MCOM) receive a minimum of 2,088 hour of training. This includes passing a Clean Needle Technique (CNT) course and examination during the student’s education. This examination is held by the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM). This test ensures that acupuncturists are held to rigorous standards when it comes to the cleanliness of their practice. Needles used are single use disposable needles. These needles are disposed in the sharps biohazard containers that are the same standard as your trusted local hospital. Proper hand washing and cleaning of the treatment area also is a standard in the MCOM student clinic. All of these practices severely decrease the risk of incident to a miniscule amount. I understand how a journalist wouldn’t know this information without doing the complete research into the acupuncture field.
The article goes on to say, “…the benefits of acupuncture do not outweigh the risks because there are no proven benefits to acupuncture.” Did I mention that the article is centered around an isolated incident from a single clinic in China? We are going to explore these proven benefits in subsequent blog posts. However, I would like to draw attention to the work being done by the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic. Two of the nation’s top hospitals trusts acupuncture enough to allow the practice inside their prestigious walls. If you are still not convinced, check out the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Conference Statement on acupuncture. Better yet, visit your local acupuncturist and get a treatment for that ailment that has been nagging you and see for yourself.