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 (
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],
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].
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 Requires||PIHMA Hours||Weyrich Hours||Dr. 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|
|Chemistry||90||>1000||AM [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|
|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 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]|
|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.