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For the most part, when anyone else besides a Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.) says "I do acupuncture" what they do neuromodulation or so called "dry needling" a trigger point therapy where they needle local points of pain. While trigger point or dry needling may have some pain relief benefit, these practitioners have no real training in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and generally are not using TCM to diagnose patients as in the case of a Licensed Acupuncturist (LAc).

Such non LAc practitioners may even call what they do “medical acupuncture,” however their training may consist of only 100 to 300 hours or less in acupuncture, which is often completed at weekend seminars. They generally get a brief overview about acupuncture meridians, learn a few acupuncture points, and receive instruction about how to insert an acupuncture needle.

Conversely, Licensed Acupuncturists (LAc), receive a three year plus education which has an 80% focus on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). LAc's must undergo an extensive clinical internship, take a national two day exam and must maintain 60 hours of continuing education in TCM for the rest of their careers. In Connecticut, LAcs are the only profession licensed by the state to do acupuncture. No other profession is licensed in acupuncture or is allowed to call themselves acupuncturists, they may only say the do acupuncture.



Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.)

-Licensed acupuncturists (LAc's) have an average of 2,700 hours of master’s-level training on-site

training at a nationally accredited school or college of acupuncture

-Hundreds of hours of clinical experience and at least 250 actual patient treatments

before licensure

-Required to pass the national certification exam in acupuncture in order to become

licensed (NCCAOM board certification)

-Required to do regular continuing education to maintain national certification

-In Connecticut, only Licensed Acupuncturists (L.Ac.'s) can call themselves acupuncturists, other

professions are only allowed to say they do acupuncture

Certified in Acupuncture

-Certified physician, chiropractor or dentist, naturopath, physical therapist have 100 to

300 hours (or less) of training

-Training is often comprised of home study and video-taped lectures

-Minimal clinical experience in acupuncture or no actual patient treatments before


-Not licensed in the state to do acupuncture, but added acupuncture into their scope of practice

-Not required to complete the national certification examination (NCCAOM) in acupuncture to

prove competency in acupuncture as required by Licensed Acupuncturists (LAc's)

-Not required to regularly complete continuing education courses as required by Licensed

Acupuncturists (LAc's)

Compare the Amount of Training in Acupuncture

With 1905-2000 hours in Acupuncture and/or 2625-3500 hours in Oriental Medicine:

Licensed Acupuncturist (LAc's)

Oriental Medicine Practitioner

Doctor of Oriental Medicine (DOM)

Many Acupuncture schools now exceed 2,000 hours plus of training. Colleges in California must meet a minimum required 3,000 hours in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

The study of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) includes: varied schools and approaches in acupuncture, Chinese herbs, dietary therapy, cupping, moxa therapy, electro-acupuncture, gwa sha, tui na massage, tai qi and qi gong meditative exercises.

Primary training for a Licensed Acupuncturist (LAc) is primarily in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and has:

a) Obtained a 3-4 year master’s level degree or diploma from a school approved by ACAOM

(Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine), and

b) Has been board certified in Acupuncture or Oriental Medicine (Diplomate: Dipl Ac or Dipl OM) upon successful examination by the NCCAOM (National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine), which is the national standard for licensing in most states.

LAc's use diagnosis and treatment techniques based on Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) theory to treat a broad range of health conditions, including chronic disease, internal medicine, pain, disease prevention and much more.

Compare L.Ac.'s Amount of Training in Acupuncture vs Others

With 100-300 Hours or (much) Less:

Medical Acupuncturists (MD)

Chiropractic Acupuncture (DC)

Naturopathic Acupuncture (ND)

Physical Therapists (PT)

Typically a medical doctor, naturopath, physical therapist or chiropractor uses acupuncture as an adjunctive therapy added to their licensed speciality and generally for pain management.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that medical doctors have 200 hours of training to know how and when to refer to a more fully-trained Acupuncturist or Oriental Medicine practitioner. Medical doctors in Austria study TCM for a year to understand the concepts and to know when to refer a patient to an acupuncturist trained in TCM.

(Often) With 100 hours or less:

Medical Acupuncture

Chiropractic Acupuncture

Detox Tech

Physical Therapists

Detox Techs must be under the supervision of a Licensed Acupuncturist (LAc) and are limited to 5 specific points on the ear.

Used for pain management or addiction & detoxification through auricular acupuncture.

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