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As I’ve stated before, you have to be VERY careful whom you have your acupuncture provided by. Here is an interesting article showing the evidence that “medical acupuncturists” (chiropractors, medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, etc.) are a hazard when practicing acupuncture. You should always go to a qualified NCCAOM licensed acupuncturist.



Many M.D.’s & D.C.’s are practicing acupuncture with little or no acupuncture training.

You MUST ask them how many HOURS of acupuncture training they had. 2,000 hours should be the MINIMUM.

Acupuncturists with the most training in the USA have the initials L.Ac. after their name.


Stay away from undertrained medical acupuncturists if you don’t want your lungs punctured.

Acupuncture is one of the most popular complementary therapies in the world and it’s crucial to go to a licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac.) to avoid serious complications while avoiding medical doctors, chiropractors, and other practitioners with minimal acupuncture training calling themselves acupuncturists.

According to MEDLINE, the Department of International Health Development described the pathological findings of an autopsy case of bilateral tension pneumothorax after a medical acupuncture treatment. The most serious complications of acupuncture treatment is pneumothorax due to perforation of the lungs by needle insertion. This patient suffered dyspnea and chest pain soon after the medical acupuncture treatment, and died 90 min later.
PMID: 14568778 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

The University of Muenster in Germany claims many cases of acupuncture related pneumothorax have been published over the years. They mentioned one case in particular which was a woman who received acupuncture at the level of the spinous process of the third thoracic vertebra. She experienced difficulties in breathing and pain in the left chest. On x-ray examination a tension pneumothorax was diagnosed. What made it also shocking was that this woman received acupuncture from a “fully trained medical acupuncturist”.
(PMID: 15077937 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE])

The Institute of Community Medicine in Norway reported a total of 193 patients with adverse effects of acupuncture in 14 years. Pneumothorax being the most common. Medical Acupuncture treatment is claimed to be responsible in the death of three patients.

The study confirms that serious adverse effects, however, are few, and acupuncture can generally be considered a safe treatment and that “most adverse effects of acupuncture seem to rely on inadequate acupuncture education“.
PMID: 9395661 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

So how do you find a fully educated acupuncturist and avoid an acupuncturist with “inadequate acupuncture education” and lessen your risk of serious complications?

Just follow these common sense steps:

1. Ask your acupuncturist how many hours of acupuncture study they had?
The answer should be at least 2,000 hours.

2. Ask what acupuncture school they went to.
Accredited acupuncture schools can be found here and if theirs is not on this list, walk away!

3. Beware of medical doctors, chiropractors, and other practitioners who claim to be medical acupuncturists. Most often they only have 200 hours of acupuncture education.

As a rule of thumb, be cautious of anyone who practices acupuncture secondary to their advertised expertise.

A medical doctor or other practitioner who also practices acupuncture is OK as long as they meet the criteria of #1 and #2

To find a fully trained and licensed acupuncturist you can search this acupuncture directory.