The purpose of this book is to give an introduction to the philosophy of acupuncture and to review the current developments in this system of medicine. The initial chapters deal with acupuncture treatment generally—indicating its successes in a variety of common diseases—and there then follows an account of its evolution and history both in China and the West.
Throughout, the book is addressed to the lay reader. It neither pretends to be an acupuncture textbook nor to describe how to carry out acupuncture, but it does summarize the available information on acupuncture and what can be achieved by this form of therapy.
Within the field of acupuncture there are those who believe that their own ideas are the only correct approach to this type of treatment, so I have attempted to describe, in a balanced and systematic manner, the use and abuse of all the currently available theories concerned with the practice of acupuncture.
I do not hold to any one particular approach, but feel that all the ideas within the field should be understood, evaluated and used to benefit those who seek help. Acupuncture is growing in popularity and importance, and as it becomes more acceptable it is gradually being integrated into the fabric of Western medicine.
Before going to an acupuncturist it is wise to discuss your problem with your own general practitioner. It may be that acupuncture is not the best treatment for your complaint and a diagnosis should be made before any treatment is given. Your general practitioner can then refer you to an acupuncturist if this type of treatment is indicated. However, the patient is the final arbiter of the type of health care he wishes to receive and ultimately the decision is his, whatever professional advice he may receive.
There are two groups of people practicing acupuncture in the United Kingdom; non-medically qualified acupuncturists, and those who also have a medical degree.
There are several organizations that cater for non-medical qualified acupuncturists. Two of the main ones are the British Acupuncture Association and the Traditional Acupuncture Society. A request from any member of the general public, to these organizations, will usually secure a list of the acupuncturists affiliated to them. Most non-medically qualified acupuncturists have completed an acupuncture course; however it is quite legal (in the United Kingdom) to practice acupuncture without any form of training, in either acupuncture or Western medicine. It is therefore wise to assure yourself that the acupuncturist you wish to visit does have some sort of formal training or qualification in acupuncture.
The British Medical Acupuncture Society is the only organization in the United Kingdom that caters for medically qualified acupuncturists. The general public is not able to obtain lists of medically qualified acupuncturists, but this list is available to doctors, via the British Medical Association, if they wish to refer a patient for acupuncture.