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The different types of acupuncture

Most people are unaware there are several different types of acupuncture being performed in the world today.

Acupuncture developed on the Asian continent, with many countries within Asia developing their own style of acupuncture. For example, there is Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese styles.

Recently acupuncture has become popular in western countries and new styles have been invented that aren't a part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Traditional Chinese medicine originated in China thousands of years ago.

All types of acupuncture involve the inserting of needles on different areas of the body.

Types of acupuncture

Traditional (oriental) acupuncture

The different types of traditional acupuncture all originate from East Asian countries. Traditional acupuncture involves the regulation of blood flow and the flow of qi. Practitioners of traditional acupuncture follow similar theories of acupuncture, but expressed in slightly different ways.

  • Chinese type (TCM) acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of acupuncture practiced in the world today with an unbroken tradition dating back thousands of years. As China is so big, it had the greatest influence of the development of acupuncture.
  • Dr Tan type acupuncture is a form of Chinese type acupuncture with it's roots firmly in acupuncture theory. Additional theories by Dr Tan are then layered on top. Aspects of Master Tung acupuncture are also used.
  • Master Tung type acupuncture is a form of Chinese style acupuncture that's based on a family lineage tradition dating back hundreds of years.
  • Shamanic acupuncture uses aspects of Shamanic spirituality with acupuncture needles.
  • Korean acupuncture is as old as Chinese style acupuncture. Hand acupuncture is unique to Korean acupuncture and is similar in respects to auricular acupuncture.
  • Japanese acupuncture is as old as Chinese style acupuncture and is heavily based on acupuncture practiced in China.
  • Vietnamese acupuncture is as old as Chinese style acupuncture and again is heavily based on acupuncture practiced in China.
  • Abdominal acupuncture was invented by Dr Bo a few decades ago and is based on classical acupuncture theory.

Western acupuncture

More recently, physiotherapists, chiropractors, nurses and doctors have started performing 'acupuncture' after doing a weekend course. This is because there is no regulation of acupuncture at present.

  • Dry needling or trigger point acupuncture is a western form of acupuncture based upon a limited understanding of how acupuncture works. It's popular for pain management. A needle is inserted into a muscle to release a tight area thereby reducing pain and muscle restriction.
  • Five Element acupuncture was created by the Englishman JR Worsley and is a western type of acupuncture. Five Element acupuncture doesn't exist in East Asia and isn't recognised in China or Australia, where acupuncture is regulated.
  • Medical acupuncture was invented by western medicine doctors in the believe that acupuncture works on the nervous system.
  • Auricular acupuncture was created by Dr Nogier in the 1950s and later incorporated into Chinese type acupuncture.

How to choose the best type of acupuncture for you

Choosing which type of acupuncture is best for you can be a daunting exercise. There are several things to consider when deciding what type of acupuncture you should select.

Here are several things to think about when deciding what type of acupuncture to try:

  • Has it been practised for a long time? And will therefore more likely work. Only traditional, oriental acupuncture has been practised for thousands of years
  • Is is recognised in Asia where acupuncture has been used for thousands of years. Again only traditional, oriental acupuncture has been practised for thousands of years
  • If you've tried one type of acupuncture and it hasn't worked for you, then try a different type and see if that works better
  • Make sure it's recongised by your local government