Being a Chinese student at UF, when something goes wrong with my body, the first idea that jumps into my mind is to go to the Infirmary on campus. Finding someone who knows about Chinese medicine is far beyond my expectation. That’s why I was astonished at first when I accidentally found out that there are many acupuncturists and acupuncture clinics here in Gainesville, Fla.. It also surprised me when acupuncturists, whom I interviewed, told me that 90% of their patients are American, not Chinese and the number keeps growing. Due to my curiosity as to how acupuncture works here in the U.S., I decided to dig into the information a little bit further.
Acupuncture developed from the traditional Chinese way of treating patients, practices which date back thousands of years. These acupuncturists also always use herbal medicine to help heal the body. Differing from modern medicine, which targets one problem at a time, Chinese medicine focuses more on improving the functions of the entire body. Different herbal medicines work as a whole to reach the treatment expectation. Therefore, it is very hard to get solid scientific evidence to show what the effect of a specific element is in the herbal medicine. This difficulty is also true of acupuncture . Compared to modern science, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture are more like an ancient system of experience. That’s why there are many hot debates over the issue of whether acupuncture/Chinese medicine is fake science. However, acupuncturists have their own way of looking at this issue.
Acupuncture is growing in the U.S.. Take Gainesville, for example. Stephen, license number 72, opened the first acupuncture clinic in Gainesville 33 years ago. On the other hand, Han Lin, license number 2849, opened his clinic in Gainesville a little more than 2 years ago. This growth shows that the practice continues to thrive.
Right now there are more than 60 acupuncture schools that offer master’s or doctorate degrees in either acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine. For the past three decades, the number of acupuncture schools has continued to increase.
Despite its growth, there are many obstacles that hinder the development of acupuncture.
The two different medical systems have their own strengths and weaknesses. Western medicine works effectively in the case of trauma, whereas traditional Chinese medicine works better when addressing chronic problems. Which is better? It’s hard to say. Let’s take it on a case by case basis.
(To be continued…)