Differences Between Western Medical Acupuncture and Traditional Oriental Medical Acupuncture (Part One)

Acupuncture in and of itself is considered to be medical in nature as it is used to get rid of or to decrease all together, a variety of health concerns. There are differences however between traditional Oriental medical acupuncture and Western medical acupuncture. Let’s take a closer look at what these differences are.

The main differences between the two can be broken down into three points. First of all, the traditional oriental version of acupuncture leans heavily on the theory of meridians and points on the human body but in the western medical acupuncture model these things are either completely ignored or else they are interpreted in a very different way. Proponents of the Western medical form of acupuncture have not been able to find any physical evidence and no basis from a historical point of view that these points or meridians exist at all. Secondly, The concepts that define infections, disorders and diseases all come from modern Western pathology as opposed to Oriental medical theory. The Oriental form of acupuncture was in place long before more scientific methods were put into use and therefore has been harshly criticized in light of the way health problems are assessed and treated today in the modern world. In other words, because traditional oriental medical does not stand up to scientific reasoning, many believe it is invalid. Thirdly, medical acupuncture is believed to work only when the modern understanding of a variety of disciplines is understood. These disciplines include anatomy, biochemistry and physiology.

In looking at the principal differences that separate the traditional from the Western medical we see that the traditional acupuncture model is based on observations and theories that are traditional in nature while the western medical is based on the knowledge of both modern anatomy as well as modern physiology. The traditional acupuncture follows the type of procedures that are based on the experiences that have been going on for thousands of years whereas the western medical model for the most part ignores both the traditional theories as well as the traditional techniques. The traditional Oriental medical acupuncture is often described by way of using a Taoist metaphor whereas the Western medical model is based on science that is modern and progressive and involved in scientific research.

The above differences tend to be theoretical in nature but it is important to note that there are very practical differences between the two schools of though as well. For example those that follow the traditional model that live and work in the West work from a holistic basis, which means they look at the body as a complete entity and are likely to consider such things as energy imbalances and vitamin or mineral deficiencies of the body. Traditional practitioners are likely to use many needles and could very well leave them in place for a period of 20 minutes or even longer. Many practitioners of Western medical acupuncture use less numbers of needles, and in some cases only one, and only insert the needle(s) for a very brief period of time such as two or three minutes or in some cases it is even a matter of seconds. When the period of time is brief this is known as “brief needling techniques”.