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Acupuncture Today – June, 2011, Vol. 12, Issue 06

On Point

By Marilyn Allen, Editor-at-Large

Here is the latest acupuncture news and happenings from around the world to help you stay "on point" with the world of acupuncture.

Acupuncture For Gulf War Illness

The New England School of Acupuncture (NESA) was recently the recipient of a $1.2 million U.S. Department of Defense grant to fund a first-of-its-kind clinical trial: the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of Gulf War Illness (GWI).

It will be the first treatment trial for GWI. It is also the largest study NESA has ever received. NESA researchers will study how acupuncture can help symptoms of GWI such as mood disorders, fatigue, headaches, memory problems and skin problems.

The trial will include 120 veterans from the Boston/New England area suffering from GWI. Licensed acupuncturists will be offering free real acupuncture (no sham acupuncture) to all veteran participants.

More than 100,000 of the 700,000 Gulf War veterans have reported chronic multi-symptom illnesses, which persist for years after seeking treatment, according to Lisa Conboy MA, MS, ScD, Co-director of the research department and chair of the biomedical department at NESA, and principal investigator for NESA's upcoming clinical trial.

Conboy said published research suggests that acupuncture will work for Gulf War Illness. A few of the veterans that have completed the study have had good experiences.

NESA is still looking for study volunteers. If you know someone who served the "Gulf Theater of Operations" between August 1990 and December 1992 that is suffering from fatigue, mood disturbances and joint and muscle pain, please contact NESA at 617-558-1788 Ext. 269.

Emperor's College Donates $1,000 To Japan Relief Fund

Emperor's College of Traditional Oriental Medicine, one of the oldest and most distinguished acupuncture colleges in the nation, presented International Medical Corps with a $1,000 donation to support the organization's earthquake and tsunami relief efforts in Japan.

Throughout the month of March, Emperor's College had allocated all proceeds generated from its Ear Acupuncture Clinic towards their donation.

To help International Medical Corps further their medical relief efforts, go to For more information about Emperor's College, visit

California and Massachusetts Have Introduced Acupuncture Bills

Two acupuncture bills have been introduced in California and Massachusetts that you should be aware of.

Both bills deal with insurance reimbursement for acupuncture services.

Here is the latest on the two:

In Massachusetts, the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Society of Massachusetts (AOMSM) Legislative Committee reintroduced a modified version of last year's HR 4111 to the Massachusetts House of Representatives that will mandate insurance reimbursement for acupuncture services. The new number for the Bill is now called HD 1593.

The AOMSM Legislative Committee reported in March that the current bill has 19 co-sponsors and a good amount of financial support for the bill, including generous donations of $500 and $3,000 have gone towards this campaign.

The organization is now waiting for the bill to go before the Joint Finance Committee (JFC). This body makes a determination if the bill may proceed further in the legislative process and appear before the Health Financial Committee (HFC).

If you want to join other acupuncturists in discussing this bill, visit

In California, Assemblyman Mike Eng has also introduced the Assembly Bill (AB) 72 – Acupuncture Coverage by Health Plans into the California State Assembly.

This bill would allow millions of Californians to have acupuncture covered in their health care service plans and require every health care service plan and health insurer, which covers hospital, medical, or surgical expenses to provide coverage to group contract holders for expenses incurred as a result of treatment by acupuncturists, under terms and conditions agreed upon between the health plan and the group contract holder.

The bill includes all healthcare insurance policies, including disability insurance policies, with the exception of HMOs (Health Maintenance Organization) and those that are "specialized health care service plan contracts."

If signed into law, the bill will take effect on January 1, 2012.

According to numerous news reports, a similar acupuncture bill was shot down with a veto in 2008 by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now, with Governor Jerry Brown in office, the bill may survive the legislative process. In 1975 during his first term, Governor Jerry Brown signed a law legalizing the practice of acupuncture by licensed acupuncturists and the California Acupuncture Board was created.

ACAOM, Luzhou Medical College Reach Agreements

ACAOM and Luzhou Medical College reached an agreement to collaborate in February. Under the agreement, the two institutions have agreed to become sister schools and collaborate in several areas: faculty exchange, research, student exchange, and sharing of online library resources. Luzhou Medical College was founded in 1951 with the name of Southern Sichuan Medical School. Students in the future will have the opportunity to select Luzhou Medical College as a clinic site along with Dalian Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Zhejiang Provincial Hospital of TCM, and First Teaching Hospital of Tianjin University of TCM. Along with Luzhou Medical College, ACAOM is also sister schools with Taipei Medical School, which is one of the top medical schools in Taiwan.

ACAOM and Taipei Medical University also signed a sister school agreement to collaborate in multiple areas including research, academic and clinical exchanges, student externships, and other activities. Taipei Medical University is one of the top medical schools in Taiwan. Its research programs lead the world in many areas including neural injury and neuroregeneration, reproductive medicine, biomedical materials, stem cell imaging, cancer research, national emergency air medical service, and telehealth to name a few. Taipei Medical University has seven colleges, 12 schools, and 14 graduate programs. In addition, the university has partnered with over 174 biotechnological and pharmaceutical companies.

News from the Institute of Taoist Education and Acupuncture

The Institute of Taoist Education and Acupuncture recently reported their continual progress of their community education program. The campus has partnered with Transition Teams, which will allow them to have speakers on transition and sustainability. They have Taiji and Push Hands classes for the community (as well as students), environmental films, seasonal wellness talks and programs, etc., and more in the wings, according to Sandra Lillie, President of ITEA.

The school has also made two significant additions to their program - they are now enrolling all students as members of Colorado's professional organization, the Acupuncture Association of Colorado. This will enable students be introduced to a wider professional outlook. They plan on having mandatory volunteer service days scheduled within their curriculum.

ITEA also recently went through the OSHA certification process and was recommended by the site visitors for the SHARPS certification, first for a year, and then for three years.

Acupuncture in Federal Health Care Reform

Congresswoman Judy Chu and Herb K. Schultz, the Regional Director for the US Dept of Health and Human Services recently met to devise a strategy to get acupuncture covered as an Essential Health Benefit in federal health care reform. In fact, this meeting was the first about acupuncture ever to be heard by senior staff from HHS.

Ms. Chu will have another meeting in NorCal with Mr. Schultz on April 29, 2011.

GIVE back By Purchasing 9000 Needles

If you are thinking of purchasing 9000 Needles, the independent documentary about Devin Dearth, a 40-year-old former bodybuilder who goes to China to be treated with acupuncture after suffering a massive stroke, make sure to purchase it at the film's official website,

All proceeds from the site will go to benefit the Devin Dearth Foundation.

9000 Needles tells a unifying story of how Devin's family and local community put aside preconceived notions about medicine to embrace the solution that offered their loved one the most benefit.


The World Health Organization has a mandate from the United Nations to gather health information. This information relates to the 193 member states (countries around the world) and then it is put into the data health information systems.

This process is like city planning. Every country has different roles to play and the overall process and it must be large enough to include all of the countries, their citizens, and their needs. A city must be large enough to accommodate all groups.

The World Health Organization is the only global agency that can put all of this process and information together. This time all of the health information is being gathered and constructed in electronic form.

Healthcare is such a big part of countries' budgets that the formation of the classification codes will not be left just to the doctors. In this revision; government agencies are stepping in to assist in the process.

Non-traditional medicine (Western) basically is the only practice that has been counted in the past. The World Health Organization has just completed a study and found that about 60-80 percent of the world's population uses some method of traditional medicine.

Traditional Medicine has no reliable statistics. These statistics include numbers of mortality, morbidity, and all types of adverse side effects and events.

What are the potential benefits of the formation of International Classifications of Traditional Medicine?

  1. ICTM will link Traditional Medicine practices with global norms and standards development.
  2. ICTM will enhance the international public health task on global statistics, surveillance, and public safety.
  3. ICTM will enhance basic and clinic research around Traditional Medicine throughout the world.
  4. ICTM will help to give equal access to global public goods for all World Health Organization 193 member states.
  5. ICTM will integrate Traditional Medicine into global statistics.
  6. ICTM will be used to create reimbursement.

This project is being written for the citizens of the world. It is important for all countries to be included.

The Project Advisory Group (PAG) oversees the work of the individual technical advisory groups. There is a chairperson for each TAG. The sessions are all conducted in English. All TAG's are composed of different representatives from each country.

Each TAG is going to form a working group. There will be 3 working groups.

  1. Diagnosis
  2. Acupuncture
  3. Therapeutic Medicines

The groups will work from the established content models which are like the indexes for the work. The members of the working groups will be the authors of the classifications. The material written by the authors will be called the value sets. Terminology is covered through all levels. It includes the list of terms to describe all entities (entries) in the content models. The models are like the "Table of Contents" in a book. Each term has to have a definition as clearly and completely as possible in English.

Each country is to provide the names of potential authors. The United States is providing people that have an outstanding command of the English language syntax, vocabulary, and structural skills. The United States plays and will continue to play a very important role in the construction of these three classifications because of the English language skills.

The ICD documents date back to the 1800s, and are based on the causes of death in the 1800s. The ICD-10, will begin use in the United States on October 1, 2012. This document, ICD-10, is being revised and overhauled completely to produce ICD-11. The new version of ICD-11 will be completely digital, and there is every possibility that because it is in digital/electronic form that there will be no need for an ICD-12 version. By being digital/electronic, it will be possible to update, change, revise or add to on a regular basis. For this reason, Traditional Medicine codes must be included in ICTM-11 version.

The ICTM document must pass two groups, the Revision Steering Group, and the World Health Assembly. There are items and issues the ICTM-11 documents must meet with the Revision Steering Group:

  1. All three documents, diagnosis, acupuncture, and therapeutic medicines must have consistent terminology.
  2. Must represent information from all of the countries.
  3. There must be clarity in the meanings and definitions of terms.
  4. There must be relationships in terms.
  5. Equivalence must be meticulous when making a claim that is not equivalent to Western medicine.
  6. There must be clarity in meaning of terms, it cannot be vaguely defined.
  7. Impeccable attention to details is very important.

The World Health Assembly (the second group to present to and pass in 2014. Each member state has one vote, no matter their size. The group meets once a year. The classifications must pass this body (WHA) to be included in ICD-11.

Our immediate task in the United States is:

  1. Recruit 100 reviewers. These reviewers will read the classifications they are to be independent to make comments. We have submitted a list of 36 names, CVs, photos, and areas of interest so far. There are 5-7 more names to be submitted. The World Health Organization will select the reviewers, and has not started that process yet.
  2. We must have at least 12 authors for writing the content models. We also need names to be submitted for three working groups. The groups will work prior to the reviewers beginning their work. It is important that the reviewers do not know the authors or who submitted information which is populating the content models.
  3. Check-in on the Web site for the WHO-ICTM at for the latest information and updates on a regular basis.
  4. We are in the process of raising $300,000.00.

Other Countries are contributing also. China is contributing $1,200,000.00, Korea and Japan are around the same.

Please send this out to people in your groups, organizations, and networks.

Click here for more information about Marilyn Allen, Editor-at-Large.

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