Acupuncture / Acupressure



Legislative Risks

Acupuncture / Acupressure approaches to natural healthcare are in the process of being affected by the following EU law. Important: If you use herbs such as TCM in your practice, please see 'Herbalism' page also, and visit our EU herb law challenge webpage.

Click on the links below to read about how this legislation may affect you: 

Medical Devices Directive
European Commission summary
    ANH summary

UK Acupuncture Practitioners and Herbalists: The issue of statutory regulation

Now that the UK government has announced that Statutory Regulation (SR) for UK herbalists will go ahead, many have breathed a sigh of relief about the future of herbal medicine, their ability to access herbal products and to continue practising. But we believe that there should be no complacency about any of this. See our news item: Yes, minister? Or not? Contradictions in UK government policy on herbalist statutory regulation.

The UK Medicines Act 1968, Section 12(2) has now been superseded by EU law. Section 12(1) is also under threat. SR has been seen by many herbalists as the only hope for maintaining supply of herbal products. Chinese medicine, and Ayurvedic sectors rely particularly on traditional formulations made by third-party supply. There are some herbalists, however, who are particularly unhappy about the idea of SR. 

Interested parties had (in 2009) called on as many practitioners—and their patients and supporters —as possible to respond to the UK Department of Health (DoH) “joint consultation on the Report to Ministers from the DH Steering Group on the Statutory Regulation of Practitioners of Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Other Traditional Medicine Systems Practised in the UK”. Herbalists and practitoners, and their supporters made their views known to their Members of Parliament (MPs)—this was seen by some as a last chance café for national democracy, before it’s all swept away in the wake of the Lisbon Treaty which will see all public health matters—throughout Europe—managed centrally in Brussels.

1st December 2009: Prince Charles urges the UK Government to regulate herbal medicine. 

19th March 2010: NIMH Press Release 'Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Health, urged by NIMH not to make the wrong decision on statutory regulation of herbal medicine'

UK Health Secretary 'minded to legislate' for regulation of Herbalists. Read Times Online article

Scientific Risks

This section is under construction.    

Media Risks

In January 2006, the BBC series 'Alternative Medicine' broadcast its first episode which included a sequence in which acupuncture was used instead of a general anaesthetic during open heart surgery in China. We understand that good reviews and high profile news stories ensued, but by the 14th February an article had appeared in the Telegraph, questioning what really took place. Then on the 25th March 2006  the Guardian published an article by the same reporter, announcing that the 'scientists who worked on it [the program] say it was flawed and hyped'.

Yet the Guardian article also informs us that some of the scientists involved in the series appeared to be of a different opinion. Professor George Lewith, we understand, later criticised the way the experiment was presented, but actually described the results in the programme as 'quite special', and 'something unique to acupuncture'. We are told that a spokesman for Dr Jack Tinker, one of the scientific consultants for the series, said that the doctor 'remained happy with the tone and content of the films'. The spokesman apparently also stated that 'fellow medics at the Royal Society, including one eminent professor, said it was the best medical series they had seen on television'. 

It is interesting to learn that [the Guardian article states that the BBC claimed this] Professor Edzard Ernst, the other scientific consultant for the series, had signed off the program script, and apparently failed to declare his reservations until 'so long after' the series was aired!

So why, we ask ourselves, would these particular scientists apparently change their minds about all this after the series was aired? 

Various complaints about the series were made to the BBC, which we believe were rejected. Eventually, we understand, the reporter Simon Singh appealed to the BBC Board of Trustees, and in April 2007, two of his various complaints about the series were upheld. One of these specifically related to the episode featuring the acupuncture.

Various articles then appeared announcing this development. See 'BBC admits some bad science reporting (at last)'. 

(Note: within the response to the upheld complaint about the open heart surgery being misleading due to the impression being given that 'the acupuncture was used instead of a general anaesthetic', the BBC Trustees did state that the surgery had been 'reviewed by an anaesthetist who believed it was a ''superb insight'' of a ''specific clinical situation'' using ''minimal doses of sedative and local drugs, supplemented by the psychological effect of acupuncture'' '.)      






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