Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine – Mainstream Integration?

Published on Medical Book 2001
by Professor Man Fong Mei (梅万方教授)

Surprisingly to some, acupuncture is more widely practiced than most think. According to a survey in The Times newspaper 90% of British doctors would recommend acupuncture as a form of treatment.

Acupuncture is a component of Chinese Medicine with an evolutionary history of nearly 4000 years. This traditional system of healing is now adapted to deal with problems such as: Allergic disorders, asthma, ME, MS, stress and various pain syndromes – Newly publicised treatment of eczema and a number of gynaecological problems ensure continual interest by patients and doctors alike. With more than one-third of the population being treated, acupuncture and Chinese Medicine should play a more important role in Western healthcare.

It is apparent, due partly to misinformed reporting on the subject, that Western doctors find the prospect of practicing Chinese Medicine, on the whole – daunting. However, as Chinese Medicine and acupuncture are rapidly becoming the preferred ‘alternative’ treatment, many research projects and clinical trials have been put into progress to provide a more scientific explanation to this ancient medical system. The use of TENS, electro-acupuncture and laser acupuncture in hospital pain clinics around the world is a positive sign of modern developments and adaptation to Eastern medicine.

It is common knowledge that heart attacks and stress rank amongst the highest in the list of medical complaints, together with side effects from drugs and complications resulting from surgery. It is ironic that modern Western medicine with its astounding drugs and scientific advancement creates as many problems for the human being as it solves. For example, stress is a major health problem of our time, and is gradually worsening with each new obstacle a person has to face, modern lifestyles and hectic schedules are breaking down the ability for a person to cope with stress. A person subjected to continuous stress may suffer serious mental and physical illness involving depression, insomnia, digestive disorders, ulcers, muscular pain, impotence and menstrual dysfunction, all of which are common disorders presented at doctors surgeries nationwide. It is in this area that Chinese Medicine can help. Targeting the immune system, Chinese Medicine concerns itself with the interrelated balance within the bodies of the mental, emotional and physical components. In scientific terms the healthy body regulates its metabolism and hormonal systems by the balancing acts of releasing the correct amount of cortisol adrenaline and neurotransmitters such as endorphins – Excessive stimuli caused by for example; a traumatic event will lead to confusion and chaos within the body. Stress increases the body’s heart rate as much as heavy physical exercise. Less than 20% of people are able to effectively cope with crises. Acupuncture or non-needle acutherapy can effectively balance the body’s metabolism and hormonal systems. It is now proven that acupuncture releases endorphins and other neurotransmitters.

By addressing the balance of the body’s internal organs and physiological functions, Chinese Medicine can easily relieve stress in all its forms. This is just an example of the scores of ways that Chinese Medicine and acupuncture can help improve the wellbeing and quality of life for an individual.

The development of biological science and the transformation of medical systems have led to a change of focus from that of previously fighting the disease to the prevention of disease in the form of health promotion. Emphasis is gradually (as it rightly should be) falling on the person rather than their disease – In this manner, the holistic aspects of Chinese Medicine, meaning the physical and spiritual are now being meaningfully applied. As already discussed, there are many advantages and specific characteristics in the Chinese method of treating immune related diseases. The benefits do not end there. Relief of cardiovascular diseases, cancers and infectious diseases are also covered as complaints. Modern Chinese research has shown us these advantages, therefore we should not only observe the general systemic aspect of clinical effectiveness, but also individual case studies – This would lead to a greater depth in research and the strengthening of standardisation of Chinese Medicine.

Chinese diagnostic examination and syndrome differentiation is of the utmost importance from the holistic point of view. Chinese Medicine treats the ‘roots’ of the problem in order to alleviate the symptom. The physical being is at one with the mental and emotional being. The balance between the organs, the natural flow of Qi (the energetics of the body) the blood, the inter relation between human physiology and external pathogens, emotional and mental factors, are all considerations for the patients treatment. Therefore, the physician of Chinese Medicine should master not only the science but also the intuitive art of healing.

To the Western world, the image of the Chinese Medicine clinic has often been described as ‘back street’, ‘Quack’ and ‘Voodoo’. There are several reasons as to why people think of these clinics in such a way, one of them is the public’s decision to administer themselves over the counter medication with little or no advice from a qualified practitioner. Many of these products are found to be untested. With situations such as these, it is no wonder that problems have occurred and consequently, properly qualified Chinese medical physicians are being tarred with the same brush as these ‘back street’ clinics.

Western medicine has its occurrences of ‘accidents’ with many drugs having appalling side effects and toxicity – So why do we find that Chinese Medicine is continually bombarded with bad press?

Chinese medical physicians should be judged by their individual merits, and not as a collective. There is good and bad in every walk of life and there are many ‘good’ Chinese medicine physicians who have helped many people when Western medicine has failed them, these physicians continue to fight for recognition of their life’s work and for the patients they treat.

In the light of this, some Chinese medical organisations, such as AcuMedic, are now regulating themselves, setting stringent tests on products, demanding fully recognised and experienced practitioners and seeking governmental legislation for the training of doctors and healthcare professionals of Western medicine to practice Chinese Medicine safely with the proper controls and the governmental support it deserves. Governmental interest in this medical methodology is increasing.

According to statistics there are more non-Chinese studying Chinese Medicine in China than any other discipline! Over 1000 students from over eighty countries and regions have graduated with the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine (BUCM) alone. With the emergence of demand on the availability of Chinese Medicine to a greater public, educational programmes have been organised throughout the UK.

The AcuMedic Foundation is set-up to help bridge Eastern and Western medicine. Founded for the purpose of Academic exchange it supports this aim by providing a programme of education and works directly with the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine (BUCM). Founded in 1956 as the sole key institution for education in Chinese Medicine at the national level, the university has trained more than 7000 doctors over 40 years and has a current teaching staff of 395. The BUCM is a teaching, research and medical institution of the highest academic standing in China.

The Chinese Medical Institute and Register (CMIR) also takes its place beside the AcuMedic Foundation and BUCM. Offering educational programmes for doctors and more recently healthcare professionals. The Institute is organised with the full academic collaboration of the teaching, research and acupuncture faculties and affiliated hospitals of the BUCM. The team of professors and lecturers are selected from the university as well as from the existing team of AcuMedic clinical consultants. All are trained as doctors of Chinese Medicine with extensive knowledge of Western medicine. This team is backed by Western medical coordinators who understand the needs of other Western doctors. Visiting professors and lecturers are also invited from around the world to update the educational programme with the latest techniques practiced by specialists worldwide.

In the West we experience the independent practice of acupuncture separated from Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine is a mainstream medical practice in China, herbal medicine and acupuncture are integral parts of the Chinese medical system. Acupuncture is considered to be more effective and appropriate when practiced within the framework of Chinese medicine.

Registered medical practitioners can attend the CMIR course and subsequently undergo examination for the diploma in Chinese medicine, recognised by the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. To find out more about the courses offered, please contact:

The Course Administrator, AcuMedic Foundation, 101-105 Camden High Street, London, NW1 7JN. Tel: +44(0)2073886704, Fax 020 7387 8081 or email Courses or visit our website