Friday, January 15, 2021

Oriental Medicine in the US


It was in the February of 1972 when the people of U.S. first got to know the oriental medicine, especially ‘acupuncture and moxibustion’. At that time, former U.S. president Richard Nixon visited China to make diplomatic ties. Oriental medicine in U.S. is mainly recognized as acupuncture and moxibustion. The systematic researches or studies on the herbal medicine have not been made further than other western countries. For frugal and practically oriented American people who are indulged with science, expensive and somewhat scientifically unproven herbal medicine is not that easy to use.

Although there are some pills made of herbal medicine, they are treated as supplementary health-assistance foods. Other than some exceptions on the animal medicine, there are not many legal limits to use the herbal medicines.

– Oriental medicine universities in the U.S.

Beginning with the New England School of Acupuncture, ME in the mid 70s, there are 42 oriental medicine schools and another 10 teaching acupuncture and moxibustion. About one thousand graduate from them a year.

Among those schools, only 24 of them are registered to NCCAOM(The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine). The rest of them are waiting to be registered; it usually takes 3 to 4 years and they should meet the standards that NCCAOM suggests. If there are found some cases of violation of the standards in a school that has long been registered, it can be expelled. Among the 24 schools, 17 of them bestow the master degree of oriental medicine(it takes 4 years); 7 of them bestow the certificate of acupuncturist and moxa-cauterizer(it takes 2 years).

The lectures are mostly made in 3 languages: English, Korean and Chinese. The schools are spread mainly in some big states and cities such as California, New York, Maryland, Chicago, Seattle.

The course of master degree is consisted with 1,800 hours of ordinary class and 800 hours of clinical training. The curriculums are general theories of oriental medicine, medicinal stuff, prevention, acupuncture and moxibustion, medical ethics and some of western medicine, etc.

– The certification test and its after

There are two kinds of certification tests to become the doctor of oriental medicine in the U.S.: one from NCCAOM, the other from California state(C.A).

The tests are showing about 60% of the successful applicants’ ratio. NCCA holds it three times a year(in March, July and October), and C.A does it two times a year(in June and December). In California and Nevada, applicants should pass the state-administered tests; in other states, NCCAOM governs the tests. Currently, there are about 10,000 people who passed the test from NCCOAM, 8,000 of them from C.A. Among all the people, 50% is Americans; 20%, Korean and Chinese each; another 10% from other races. Only 40% of them who have the certificate is working as medical practitioners. The racial rates among them are different: 40% of them is Chinese; 30%, Korean; 20%, American; 10%, people of other races.

The Jews and Chinese are having the lead and power in the area of oriental medicine. For example, NCCAOM and AACOM are private organization established by Jewish people in 1980s. Chinese are also powerful and working in key occupations. Up to 2,000 Korean doctors in oriental medicine are vividly working, centered on California state.

In 15 states, the doctors of western medicine are allowed to apply acupuncture treatment by taking 2 to 3 hundreds hours of acupuncture and moxibustion classes. However, in 35 states, the doctors of western medicine can apply the treatments without taking the relevant classes.

– The major contributions from NIH (National Institute of Health) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration)

In the U.S., the researches and developments of acupucture and herbal medicine are primarily made in NIH. It announced in an academic convention held on 3 of November, 1997 that acupuncture treatment can be fairly effect on easing pain. It added that a natural morphine called opioid spreads through the central nerve system and relieves the pain. The test result is proven by CAT/brain scan.

FDA in March, 1996 heightened the status of acupuncture from experimental medical tool to general medical tool. This announcement made it possible that acupuncture and moxibustion treatments be broadly applied in medical insurance.

– Oriental medicine and medical insurance

According to the announcement from Boston university, with the swift and active application of recuperation program, yearly medical revenue can be saved by up to $1.10 mil. The announcement paved the way for the bright future in the oriental medicine and alternative medical treatment in that many health-insurance companies can open its gate to them more actively.

In the U.S., unlike the western medical treatment that costs lots of money usually, the treatments from oriental medicine isn’t that expensive: $50 to $100 per a time. Although the acupuncture treatments, in many cases, should be applied several times, it is known that the cost is three times cheaper than the western medicine.

– The fact of oriental medicine in the U.S.

Although the oriental medicine is originated from Asian countries, its style and many other aspects are well adapted and developing more effectively in the western countries.

Recently, acupuncture treatment is said to be very famous and helpful in curing the various types of addiction. To quit drugs, cigarettes and to seek the mental peace and stability, more and more people are resorting to acupuncture treatment, which shows great efficiency and almost zero side-effect.

– The future of oriental medicine in the U.S.

The level of development in oriental medicine is not that high yet in the U.S., its future is expected to be ever more bright. Public interest is also getting higher and higher. For example, Harvard university announced that the course of oriental medicine would be established in the year of 2001. Other than Harvard, many top-notched universities, colleges and medical institutions are in the same line with that. Chances are pretty high that rather than in China, the U.S. will soon take the helm on the systematic and active development in oriental medicine in foreseeable future.

Wang Wei
Wang Wei is a holistic health practitioner in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

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