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Is Acupuncture the same as Dry Needling?

By Leonie Howes
from PinGlow Acupuncture

I often ask new clients if they’ve had acupuncture before. More often than not I find they have received a dry needling treatment. Sure, dry needlers and acupuncturist use the same types of needles and insert them into skin; but that’s where the similarity ends (Fan, Xu and Li, 2017).

They are not the same thing and here’s 5 ways to help recognise an acupuncturist:

1. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Only an accredited TCM Doctor who has completed a Bachelor of Health Science can apply acupuncture. So, make sure your acupuncturist is registered with the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia (CMBA) and is a member of an Association.

2. TCM Diagnosis
A TCM practitioner will use diagnostic tools which include ‘pulse taking’ and an inspection of the ‘tongue’ to help identify a condition enabling a TCM diagnosis (Maciocia, 2005).

3. Qi and Blood
In Chinese Medicine we often talk about Qi and Blood flow (Maciocia, 2005). The Yin and Yang philosophy in TCM translates to; Yang is busy and moves quickly defining Qi. Where Yin is slower and has a stillness defining Blood (Ross, 1985). In Chinese Medicine one cannot exist without the other like day and night (Veith, 2002). The Qi is needed to move the Blood to prevent stagnation or lack of circulation around the body.

4. Acupuncture points and meridians
Acupuncture points are located on a meridian channel. There are 12 meridians on the body which allows for the free flow of Qi and Blood (Deadman, 2011). A recent study shows fluorescein a slow diffusion dye travelling along a meridian under ultrasound observation, this was identified the Pericardium Meridian and is not a vein (Li et al., 2021).

5. TCM Therapies
Chinese Medicine is a holistic medicine and can be used to treat many symptoms and diseases of the body not just muscular skeletal conditions. Dry needling is a treatment that may be provided by a physical therapist, osteopath or similar practitioner.

The subject of the Blog was chosen to address consumer confusion regarding dry needling and acupuncture. The Blog is to provide 5 ways to identify an acupuncturist and an education of the main points of Chinese Medicine. The 5 points included certification, diagnosis, Qi and Blood, acupuncture points and meridians and finally therapies of Chinese Medicine. These small pieces of information will hopefully provide the reader with some knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine and a way to identify an acupuncturist. More education to help the consumer with ways to identify a TCM practitioner is required.

Supporting references were used in the Blog to provide some evidence to the consumer of Traditional Chinese Medicine and provide scientific evidence through current research.
– Deadman, P, 2011, A manual of acupuncture. Chinese Medicine Publications, East Sussex, England.
– Fan, A. Y., Xu, J., & Li, Y. (2017). Evidence and expert opinions: Dry needling versus acupuncture (II). Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, 23(2), 83–90. doi:10.1007/s11655-017-2800-6
– Li, T., Tang, B., Zhang, W., Zhao, M., Hu, Q. and Ahn, A (2021). In Vivo Visualization of the Pericardium Meridian with Fluorescent Dyes. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2021, pp.1- 10.
– Maciocia, G. (2005). The foundations of Chinese medicine (2nd ed.). Churchill Livingstone, China.
– Qiao, Y. and Stone, A., 2008. Traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis study guide. Seattle: Eastland Press.
– Ross, J. (1985). Zang Fu: the organ systems of traditional Chinese medicine, functions, interrelationships and patterns of disharmony in theory and practice (2nd ed.). Edinburgh UK: Churchill Livingstone.
– Veith, I. (2002). The Yellow Emperor’s classic of internal medicine. London England.

More about the author

Leonie Howe
Leonie Howes
– PinGlow Acupuncture

A Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine I studied and graduated from Endeavour College of Natural Therapies in Sydney. For 26 years I worked corporate in telecommunications, it was not my passion so I decided to do something to find my purpose in life. This lead me down the path of holistic medicine.

A survivor of PTSD and Trauma I embarked on a journey of self discovery. During this time I traveled the world, researched and experienced many types of therapies. It was during this time of self discovery I decided that helping people out of pain and crisis was where my focus lied.

At PinGlow Acupuncture I utilise the most authentic treatments into a personalised therapy to deliver the best outcome for you. Providing tools for home to help support you along the way. My mission is to help you be the best version of ‘You’, because there is no one else on this earth like ‘You’.

y to deliver the best outcome for you. Providing tools for home to help support you along the way. My mission is to help you be the best version of ‘You’, because there is no one else on this earth like ‘You’.