There are several styles of Acupuncture as practiced in the United States. There are, however, as many styles of experiencing acupuncture as there are patients. Nearly every week I am asked “What can Acupuncture treat?” What I have found, more importantly, is not what Acupuncture can treat but how receptive you, the patient, are to receiving an Acupuncture treatment and how you respond to that Acupuncturist. This brings me to ask the patient “What is your Acupuncture style?” The type of acupuncture that I practice is Japanese-style acupuncture, also known as meridian style. This style tends to be what I call a lighter style than traditional Chinese acupuncture.
Traditional Chinese acupuncture is the basis on what most all acupuncture styles came from. It tends be, what I would call, a heavier style. Many people like this type of needling. It tends to be strong and but sometimes fatigues people who have weaker constitutions.
There is Japanese-style acupuncture also known as meridian style. This style tends to be what I call a lighter style. The needles are thinner (36# to 40# gauge) and less of them are used during a treatment, so the sensation, if any, is milder. This is the type of acupuncture that I practice.
Five Element Acupuncture is less of a needling style, although most five element practitioners use a lighter style, rather a practice based on the theories of what the five elements, fire, wood, water, earth, metal represent. They place great emphasis on treating the constitutional root of a problem as do most other modalities but with a more in-depth emphasis on the how it relates to each of the five elements.
Korean Hand Acupuncture (KHA) is another unique modality. In general it is needling that is done in the palm of your hand. They use the hand as a microcosm representation, not unlike foot reflexology, of the body to correlate with other parts of the body.
Auricular Acupuncture can be practiced alone or with any of the previous styles mentioned. It is a main acupuncture modality for clinics that treat addiction issues very successfully. The ear is also a microcosm of the body and the acupuncturist inserts fine short needles into specific points in the ear that correspond to parts of the body or correlated symptoms.
If you choose a practitioner that has been taught in America they have most likely been exposed to most of these styles I have mentioned. In addition, all acupuncturists learn some form of bodywork in their training. I was a Massage Therapist before I became an Acupuncturist. In China, bodywork is called Tui Na. In Japan, the main modality is Shiatsu. In America, we have many styles of bodywork that an Acupuncturist may have been exposed to during their training.
Which Acupuncturist Works for You?
This brings me to the last few nitty gritty points of practicality in choosing an Acupuncturist. Is your Acupuncturist geographically desirable? Are they close enough to you so you don’t have to drive to far? With today’s gas prices it has become a serious consideration. It is also nice to be able to relax and not have a stressful drive to think about just to get to the place you are going to relax.
Finally, I hate to say it but choosing an Acupuncturist often comes down to who is on your insurance plan. It is wonderful that many insurance plans cover Acupuncture these days. Don’t be discouraged by having only a few choices. Acupuncturists in America have had to go through a great deal of training to make it as a practitioner. Go with an open mind and cultivate your palate to the kind of style you wish to attract on your healing path.