Acupuncture is the practice of inserting needles into the body to activate a change in its state of functioning. This ancient Eastern practice is based on the belief that health is determined by chi, the vital life force that flows through every living thing. When this energy moves through the body along pathways called meridians is balanced, the individual enjoys good health. When the flow gets interrupted for some reason, the individual may experience pain and ill health. Acupuncture is used to restore proper energy flow and restoration of health.

History of Acupuncture

Animal AcupunctureAcupuncture has a 5,000 year history and many variations are practiced today depending upon the training lineage of the practitioner. For thousands of years it has been used to treat and prevent disease and other disorders of the human organism. In the East, it developed as part of the indigenous health care system called traditional Oriental medicine. There are several cultures from which acupuncture comes as it is practiced in the United States today and the practice has a different name in each culture. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and new acupuncture came from China, Tong Family Style came from Taiwan, Eight Constitutions from Korea, Meridian Therapy (MT) from Japan, Leamington Acupuncture (LA) known as 5 element acupuncture Ryodoraku from Japan and auriculotherapy from France, electroacupuncture according to Voll-EAV from Germany.

Acupuncture Sessions

Each session lasts approximately 30-60 minutes. The practitioner will insert thin needles the size of a hair on your arm at specific points on the body, depending upon the individual complaints. The treatment is usually painless although there may occasionally be some slight discomfort. Some practitioners will use electronic stimulation that may or may not penetrate the skin. Relief may be experienced after one treatment or after a series of treatments.

Uses for Acupuncture

Acupuncture helps relieve chronic pain, and is used for treating mental, behavioral and physical disorders. In some cases, acupuncture is used for anesthesia or in conjunction with anesthesia to lower the dosage required and increase the sedative effect. The use of acupuncture is widely used on animals with the same valuable results as with humans.

NOTE: The World Health Organization has recognized acupuncture as useful for conditions in humans that include those of the upper respiratory tract such as acute sinusitis, acute rhinitis, common cold, acute tonsillitis; the respiratory system such as acute bronchitis, bronchial asthma; disorders of the eye such as acute conjunctivitis, central retinitis, myopia in children, cataract (without complications); disorders of the mouth such as toothache and post-extraction pain, gingivitis, acute and chronic pharyngitis; gastro-intestinal disorders such as spasms of esophagus and cardia, hiccough, gastroptosis, acute and chronic gastritis, gastric hyperacidity, chronic duodenal ulcer (pain relief), acute duodenal ulcer (without complications), acute and chronic colitis, acute bacillary dysentery, constipation, diarrhea, paralytic ileus; and neurological and muscles disorders such as headache and migraine, trigeminal neuralgia, facial palsy (early stage), pareses following a stroke, peripheral neuropathies, sequelae of poliomyelitis (early state), Meniere’s disease, neurogenic bladder dysfunction, nocturnal enuresis, intercostals neuralgia, cervicobrachial syndrome, frozen shoulder and tennis elbow, sciatica, low back pain, and osteoarthritis. And The National Institute of Health’s Office of Alternative Medicine has funded preliminary studies of acupuncture for treatment of: major depressive episodes, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, used moxibustion to turn babies from a breach birth. These studies were small but showed a definite indication that acupuncture was helpful. According to the NIH Consensus Statement, acupuncture has been shown to be effective in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and in postoperative dental pain. There are other situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma, in which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program. NIH believes that further research is likely to uncover additional areas where acupuncture interventions will be useful. Doctors have found that using acupuncture lowers the need for conventional pain-killing drugs and thus reduces risk of side effects for patients who take the drugs.

Examination Requirements

National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) is assisted in its examination administration by Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP), one of the leading testing services in the United States. AMP is the professional testing agency contracted by the NCCAOM to assist in the administration, scoring and analysis of the NCCAOM examinations. AMP services also include the reporting of scores to candidates who take the examinations. AMP is a research and development firm that conducts professional competency assessment research and provides examination services for a number of credentialing programs. The NCCAOM is a member of the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA). It is also accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), which represents the highest voluntary certification standards in the United States. The expertise and policies of these three groups — AMP, NOCA, and NCCA — have contributed to NCCAOM development of a certification process that gives full recognition to the diversity of acupuncture in the U.S., while also providing a unified set of national standards for safe and competent practice. The first NCCAOM Comprehensive Written Examination (CWE) in Acupuncture (ACP) was given in March 1985. It was developed during a three-year period with the help of leading acupuncturists throughout the nation. Throughout this development period the NCCAOM followed national guidelines for certification and testing in order to ensure a fair, valid, and reliable examination. The administration of the exam was a milestone event in the growth of the profession in the United States. The Practical Examination of Point Location Skills (PEPLS) was added as a component of NCCAOM Acupuncture Examination in September 1989. The Clean Needle Technique (CNT) portion was added to the acupuncture written exam two years later. This separately scored CNT exam was merged into the Comprehensive Written Examination in Acupuncture in 1998.

In 1989, the profession asked the NCCAOM to develop a certification program measuring entry-level competency in the practice of Chinese Herbology. After three years of research, the organization opened the Credentials Documentation Review (CDR) period for Certification in Chinese Herbology. The first national Comprehensive Written Examination in Chinese Herbology was given in April 1995. The NCCAOM then developed a third certification program in response to requests from the profession. NCCAOM Certification in Asian Bodywork Therapy (ABT) was offered in 1996 through Credentials Documentation Review. CDR for certification in Asian Bodywork Therapy closed in December 1997. The first Comprehensive Written Examination in ABT was given in October 2000. Accredited acupuncture schools in the U.S. typically require 3,000 hours of training specific to acupuncture. The philosophy and approach are completely different than that of Western medicine.

American Academy of Medical Acupuncture (AAMA) was founded in 1987 by a group of physicians who were graduates of the “Medical Acupuncture for Physicians” training programs (200 credit hours of acupuncture training beyond the physician training) sponsored by University Extension, UCLA School of Medicine. The AAMA is the sole physician-only professional acupuncture society in North America, accepting members from a diversity of training backgrounds. Physician members represent all of the disciplines of medical acupuncture currently practiced in the United States and Canada.

Membership requirements for the Academy have been established in accordance with the training guidelines created by the World Federation of Acupuncture-Moxibustion Societies. The Academy represents the highest standards of training and proficiency among physicians practicing acupuncture in North America.
American Academy of Medical Acupuncture
5820 Wilshire Blvd.
Suite 500
Los Angeles, CA 90036


State Law varies across the 50 United States. Some states do not recognize acupuncture as a treatment modality. Most now accept NCCAOM certification or have their own licensing requirements. For specific state information, please see or contact your own state’s medical supervision agency. There are a number of ways an acupuncturist can be credentialed. Some states handle their own credentialing and the national acupuncture organizations can most likely provide you with information about your state. Maryland and West Virginia are two states that do not require an NCCAOM license because these states issue their own. Medical doctors have a different type of credentialing. And there is a national accreditation organization. In short, your acupuncturist should be able to provide you with a copy of their certification and/or state license to practice.


  1. Possess current certification for animal acupuncture from the Board;
  2. Cooperate and consult with a veterinary practitioner by:
    • Beginning acupuncture treatment on an animal only if the animal has been seen by a veterinary practitioner within the previous 14 days:
    • Adhering to the terms and conditions of treatment decided by the veterinary practitioner, including the degree of communication and collaboration between the veterinary practitioner and the person practicing acupuncture;
    • Reporting to the veterinary practitioner at the end of the animal’s treatment or at monthly intervals at the discretion of the veterinary practitioner;
    • Not working on an animal for which the person has not been appropriately trained in accordance with this regulation; and
    • A person may not represent to the public that the person is an animal acupuncturist and may not practice acupuncture on animals unless the person is certified by the board to practice acupuncture on animals.

Educational Requirements

  1. Applicants must show proof of having successfully completed a Board-approved specialty training program in animal acupuncture from a school accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) or approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission that consists of a minimum of 135 hours of theory and clinical training.
  2. List the name & complete address of the school, dates attended, and courses completed. Also list if the school is accredited by ACAOM or approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission.
    • At least 90 hours in diagnosis of energy dynamics and treatment of animals;
    • At least 15 hours in comparative functional anatomy and physiology of animals;
    • At least 15 hours in animal handling, restraints, and emergencies; and
    • At least 20 hours in introduction to animal diseases and zoonotics that require the immediate attention of a veterinary practitioner.

NOTE: A Veterinary Surgeon is the only person able to give acupuncture treatment to an animal. It is totally against the Law for anyone else to do so. Only a vet can diagnose an animals’ condition, recommend the right course of treatment and administer that treatment. In addition, the use of needles is an invasive procedure which, again by Law, only a vet can perform. If anyone other than a vet gives an animal acupuncture treatment they are committing a criminal act!