One of the most growing and evolving industry is of Alternative medicine. It is a large field which includes several specialties like Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, homeopathic medicine, yoga, ayurvedic medicine, hypnosis, crystal healing and acupuncture among others. Specialists of this field use natural healing methods to help alleviate pain, reduce stress and increase energy. Here, we will talk about acupuncture which basically deals with insertion of one or more needles into the body with therapeutic intent. It is an ancient practice and has a history spanning well over 2000 years. The ancient China is said to be the birth place of this form of treatment.

An acupuncturist can be defined as an alternative health practitioner who uses needles to inserts at specific points in the human body to treat and prevent illness or diseases. It is a very effective segment of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It helps in balancing the flow of energies around patients’ bodies and through their various internal systems. This form of alternative medicine is based on the principle of the life force, Qi that flows around meridians and pathways. By inserting needles at key points, one can redirect, flush, diminish and increase the flow of Qi. Acupuncturists believe that, this form of science helps body in curing itself of diseases. Its existence since the ancient times tells us a lot about effectiveness of acupuncture.

Though, Acupuncture is more of an oriental phenomenon but it has found increasing popularity in the western world. Acupuncture is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institute of Health (NIH) & food and Drug Administration (FDA) in USA and National Health Service (NHS) in UK. One can take NHS funded courses in acupuncture to treat pain and inflammation in their patients in UK. To become an acupuncturist, one must complete a course recognized by the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board. The course duration is of two to three years full time. One must have two A-levels and five GCSEs to qualify for the course. The course curriculum has subjects like, Principles of Qi, business and administration, diagnostic techniques, anatomy and physiology, disease conditions and treatment methods.

One can apply for voluntary membership of the Health Professions Council (HPC) in UK. Physiotherapists or GPs can also pursue this path however, norms for them differ.

In United States, number of acupuncture schools has continued to grow since the creation of the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) and the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM) in 1982. Approximately, 50 colleges offer high-quality education in acupuncture and Oriental medicine.

In India, one needs to study alternative medicine which is of two years duration and require the candidate to have passed class XII. One can also go for a Post Graduate degree Course or several diploma/certificate courses in acupuncture. Some of the major institutes offering certificate and diploma courses in acupuncture are:-
Indian Academy of Acupuncture Science, Aurangabad
Complementary Medical Academy, Chennai
Body Mind Clinic & Research Center (BMCRC), Dept Of Holistic Medicine, Vatsala Hospital, Lucknow