According to The Academy of Classical Oriental Sciences [AOCS], "Acupuncture is a very ancient form of healing that predates recorded history. The philosophy behind acupuncture is rooted in the Daoist tradition which goes back over 8000 years." The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine (Huangdi Neijing) provides the oldest written record, and is variously dated sometime before 100 BC; it is cited by most subsequent commentaries [Unschuld2003], [Unschuld1986], [Unschuld1982], [Mitchell1998], [Zhen1985], [FuQuingZhu1995], [FuQuingZhu1995]. For a light-hearted introduction, see [Yazhou2002].

Dr. Ching-Chang Tung has presented a competing system developed by his family in Shandong Province: [ChingChangTung], [Lee1998]; [Dr. Tung fled the Communist revolution in China to resettle in Taiwan; he objects to his work being translated from traditional Chinese to the simplified form favored by the PRC, as well his name being translated into Pin-Yin as "Tong"].

Modern Acupuncture Texts

Most modern acupuncture texts focus on the Zang-Fu model, which is a framework that includes both acupuncture and herbal medicine, and is especially useful when treating internal disorders. These include: [ChengXinnong2010], [Deadman2007], [Bensky1996], [ShiXuemin2006], [Lade1989], [GengJunying1995], [Scott2005].

Anatomy of Acupuncture

The anatomy of acupuncture points has been discussed in several modern texts, including: [ChenJing1988], [YanZhenguo2003], [HouchiDung2013]. Acupuncture points and meridians have also been identified for several animal species: [HuishengXie2007].


Interesting, several different theories have been developed that map the entire body onto a portion of the body, such as the, scalp, ear, hand, etc with the claim that disorders of the whole body can be treated by needling the relevant points on the "microsystem", "hologram", or "homunculus": [YajuanWang2008], [Oleson2013], [HeHunLao2004].

Treating Pain with Acupuncture

Ironically, while treating pain is one of the best-known applications of acupuncture in the Western World, most Acupuncture schools in the USA, and the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine focus on Zang-Fu theory for treating internal organ imbalances rather than on channel theory which is more relevant to treating pain.

However, there are some texts that focus on treating pain or on channel theory, including: [Chaitow1996], [Backer2010], [YuntaoMa2004], [Maciocia2006], [YitianNi2004], [ShudoDenmei1990], [ShudoDenmei2003], [Tan1991], [Tan1994], [Tan2003], [Tan2007].

Scientific Research

Acupuncture has been practiced for over 2000 years, and repeatedly honed based on what works to its current state. It is "evidence-based medicine", despite that fact that the research methodology used differs from the modern Western notion of randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trials (RCT). The basic elements of the scientific method can be found in the rich written history of the "Classics" of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

One reason that double-blind studies are not done is because it is difficult to "blind" either practitioner or the patient to where or whether an acupuncture needle is being inserted.

Another problem in applying randomized, placebo-controlled studies is a question of differing ethics between Eastern and Western practitioners. Chinese practitioners feel it is unethical to give half of the patient population a treatment that is known to be ineffective (the placebo).

Indeed, one of the weaknesses of Western medicine is that proposed new drugs are tested against a placebo, rather than against the previously identified "gold standard" treatment for a given condition. The result in Western medicine is patents being granted for new drugs that are not necessarily as effective as the old drugs, but because the new drugs have passed an RCT demonstrating that they are "better than nothing (placebo)", they are promoted as "evidence-based" and marketed at extremely high prices compared to older treatments that have not gone through the expensive RCT process. [Pick a Western drug and look up the "Number Needed to Treat" (NNT) statistic for that drug; it is not uncommon for highly recommended Western drugs to have an NNT greater than 40 - meaning 40 patients must take the drug for ONE patient to benefit. That is "evidence-based" but the evidence is not always very convincing.]

Finally, there is the problem of inclusion and exclusion criteria for RCT. Because the diagnostic criteria are different between Western medicine and TCM, a patient population chosen that exhibits a single Western diagnosis may manifest as several different TCM diagnoses (which have different TCM treatments), and vice versa. Therefore no single TCM treatment can be shown to effectively treat a single Western diagnosis, and by the same token, no single Western treatment can be shown to effectively treat a single TCM diagnosis. For further discussion of this topic, see: [MacPherson2007], [WHO1995].

Dr. Weyrich's Qualifications

Various Internet web sites promote the idea that doctors who have not completed the training required to obtain the LAc designation are unsafe or unskilled. On the other hand, holders of the LAc designation may lack sufficient medical knowledge to safely function in the modern world of integrative medicine. Dr. Weyrich's background includes a PhD in the hard sciences (Physical Organic Chemistry) [UT], and he is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor licensed in the state of AZ. Traditional Chinese acupuncture is a core component of his training and clinical experience at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine [SCNM], and acupuncture was part of his national naturopathic medical board examination [AANP]. He has also taken additional courses in acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine at Phoenix Institute of Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture [PIHMA], and has served as member of the faculty at PIMHA and as Chairman of the Departments of Western Sciences and Research at PIHMA.

In order to put Dr. Weyrich's training in perspective, the following grid compares Dr. Weyrich's background with the Master of Science in Acupuncture at Phoenix Institute of Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture (PIHMA), which is typical of a "Licensed Acupuncturist" (LAc) curriculum [PIHMA2016-Catalog].

PIHMA Curriculum RequiresPIHMA HoursWeyrich HoursDr. Weyrich's Background
Miscelaneous and Naturopathic
English Composition 45 90 90 hrs [Union]
Psychology 45 90 90 hrs [Union]
Counseling & Communications 45 120 120 hrs [SCNM]; Trained as lay counselor by CONTACT in TN and SBC in AZ
Professional Ethics 15 20 20 hrs [SCNM]; Taught at GCU
Practice Management 30 60 60 hrs [SCNM]
History of Medicine 15 60 60 hrs [SCNM]
Western Physics & Oriental Medicine 30 150 45 hrs Atomic/Nuclear Physics [Union College] + 45 hrs Quantum Chemistry [Duke] + 60 hrs Quantum Chemistry [UT]
Homeopathy 0 140 140 hrs [SCNM]
Hydrotherapy 0 15 15 hrs [SCNM]
Jurisprudence 0 20 20 hrs [SCNM]; taught at GCU
Environmental Medicine 0 55 55 hrs [SCNM]
Biofeedback/Neurofeedback 0 60 60 hrs [SCNM]
Western Language and Culture 0 545 255 hrs French + 155 hrs German + 90 hrs World/Primitive Religions + 45 hrs History of English Language [Union]
Chinese Language and Culture 30 0  
Fundamentals of Herbal Medicine 45 205 45 hrs Complementary Herbology [PIHMA] + 160 hrs Botanical Medicine [SCNM]
Total Miscelaneous and Naturopathic 300 1790 Dr. Weyrich has 6 times that required of an LAc
Hard Sciences
Chemistry 90 >1000AM [Duke] + PhD [UT] in Chemistry; taught at PIHMA
Biochemistry 60 280 140 hrs [UT] + 120 hrs [SCNM] ]; taught at PIHMA
Physics 45 405 [Union]; taught at PIHMA
Evidence Based Research 45 1410 180 hrs [Duke] + 1230 hrs [UT]; taught at PIHMA
Microbiology 60 180 60 hrs [Union] + 120 hrs [UT]; [SCNM]; taught at SCNM and PIHMA
Mathematics 0 480 420 hrs [Union] + 60 hrs [GCU]
Total Hard Sciences 300 3755 Dr. Weyrich has 12 times that required of an LAc
Western Medicine
Biology 45 40 40 hrs genetics [UT]; taught at PIHMA
Western Medical Terminology 30 0 taught at [PIHMA]
Public Health 45 30 30 hrs [SCNM]
Anatomy & Physiology 150 515 30 hrs [UT] + (300 hrs anatomy + 185 hrs physiology) [SCNM]; taught at PIHMA
Western Pathophysiology 120 120 120 hrs [SCNM]
Western Nutrition 45 120 120 hrs [SCNM]
Pharmacology 60 110 110 hrs [SCNM]
Western Physical Exam 45 90 90 hrs [SCNM]
Western Clinical Diagnosis 45 480 (180 hrs Clinical Case Review + 120 hrs Grand Rounds + 60 hrs Lab diagnosis + 50 hrs Lab Procedures + 60 hrs Radiology) [SCNM]
Minor Surgery 0 40 40 hrs [SCNM]
Emergency Medicine 0 50 50 hrs [SCNM]
Clinical Sciences ('ologys) 0 380 380 hrs [SCNM]
Clinic Preparation and Procedures 0 20 20 hrs Clinic Entry Assessment [SCNM]
Clinical Internship 0 350 700 hrs (non-Acupuncture) [SCNM]
Total Western Medicine-related 585 2345 Dr. Weyrich has 4 times that required of an LAc
Oriental Medicine
Oriental Medical Theory 180 120 90 hrs [PIHMA] + 30 hrs [SCNM]
Point Location & Meridians 90 25 25 hrs [SCNM]
Point Energetics 90 25 25 hrs [SCNM]
Oriental Medical Pathology 90 85 45 hrs [PIHMA] + 40 hrs [SCNM]
Advanced Integrative Pathology 30 40 40 hrs Acupuncture Case Analysis/Management [SCNM]
Materials & Methods 45 15 15 hrs Acupuncture Techniques [SCNM]
Oriental Nutrition 30 0  
Qi Gong 30 30 30 hrs [PIHMA]
Tai Chi 15 15 15 hrs [PIHMA]
Tui Na 60 175 30 hrs [PIHMA] + 145 hrs Physical Medicine [SCNM]
Acupuncture Practicum 90 45 45 hrs [PIHMA]
Acu-Microsystems Practicum 45 30 30 hrs [PIHMA]
Oriental Medical Diagnosis & Practicum 45 30 30 hrs [SCNM]
Oriental Medical Psychology 45 0  
Classics Seminar 30 30 30 hrs Five Element Theory [PIHMA]
Clinic Preparation and Procedures 15 0 Completed but no credit when I took; Clean Needle Certification [PIHMA]
Advanced Clinical Techniques 45 30 30 hrs Advanced Pulse Diagnosis [PIHMA]
Clinical Observation [Acupuncture] 180 80 80 hrs [PIHMA]
Clinical Internship [Acupuncture] 660 370 330 hrs [PIHMA] + 40 hrs [SCNM]
Total Oriental Medicine-related 1815 1145 Dr Weyrich has 63% of that required of an LAc, and has passed the national postdoctoral licensing examination (NPLEX), including the acupuncture section. This is far greater than the 300 hours (or less) required for a MD, Chiropractor, Massage Therapist, Physical Therapist, or Nurse to be certified in "medical" or "chiropractic" acupuncture or "dry needling" of trigger points [TryAcupuncture].

In summary, if you want a non-western purely oriental medical treatment for a Zang-Fu internal organ problem using acupuncture and Chinese herbs, a LAc is probably your best bet. On the other hand, if you want an integrative medical treatment that combines the best of Western and Oriental medicine, Dr. Weyrich is probably a better bet, especially for treating pain/channel complaints.