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There is often the suggestion that you should consult a licensed acupuncturist, not just any old acupuncturist down the street, to practice their needling on you.

Licensed and certified magic is no more effective than unlicensed and uncertified magic.

Maybe they might know a bit more if certified, but the pass rates for acupuncture boards are not impressive


In February 2014, only 62% of first time test takers in California passed and over all 49% passed. Gives one pause.

There are several sites on the internet with Acupuncture Board questions and flash cards. I took the tests and missed all the questions. The questions often seemed goofy to me, but then I find all of the theory and practice of acupuncture goofy. I was reassured to find questions concerning proper hand hygiene and sterilization of needles.

What I did not find (and that doesn’t mean they were not there; it was not an exhaustive search) were questions testing whether acupuncturists had an understanding of the importance of the anatomy under their acupoints. Evidently not, for if you search acupuncture and complications on the PubMeds you will find seven pages of articles, some of which have titles that suggest needle points are going where they should not:

A needle penetrating the stomach cavity after acupuncture.

Life-threatening cardiac tamponade: a rare complication of acupuncture.

Is pneumothorax after acupuncture so uncommon?

Staphylococcus aureus pericardial abscess presenting as severe sepsis and septic shock after acupuncture therapy.

Cervical epidural abscess after cupping and acupuncture.

An acute cervical epidural hematoma as a complication of dry needling.

Hemopericardium following acupuncture.

Cardiac tamponade caused by acupuncture: a review of the literature.

Those are the results of the first two pages of search results and does not include my all time favorite:

Acupuncture needle found in ex-South Korea president’s lung

“I can’t figure out how the needle got into there,” Dr Sung Myung-whun was quoted as telling reporters at the hospital after the operation. “It is a mystery for me, too.”

Um, maybe because acupuncturists don’t really know what they are doing when they stick needles in people?

There is a push to include acupuncturists as primary care physicians. Given the nature of their training and what it includes to pass their Boards (mostly magic) and excludes (reality and anatomy), I would not be skeptical of their abilities.

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Points of Interest: 06/21/2014