Mississippi is one of seven states that do not license acupuncturists. Instead, state law says that only medical doctors and dentists can perform acupuncture, and that with a minimal amount of training, about 200 hours.
The practice of acupuncture, an ancient medical art from China, requires specialized training, similar to nurse practitioners and physical therapists. Many leading learning institutions in the U.S., including Harvard University, provide programs in oriental medicine; in all, there are 46 accredited schools in the U.S. Both the Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health, among many others, recognize licensed acupuncturists as medical professionals. A master's degree in Oriental Medicine requires over 3,200 hours of post-graduate training.
This state, however, does not recognize that training as valid, and prohibits acupuncturists without standard western medical or dental degrees from practicing in the state.
The Mississippi Oriental Medicine Association is determined to change that. H.R. 458, sponsored by Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, chairman of the Public Health and Human Services Committee, proposes to set up a governing body in Mississippi to license acupuncturists, and would require patients to get a referral from and M.D. to receive treatment. The bill is currently in committee, which will hold hearings on the issue prior to a vote.
An attempt to push legislation through in last year's session met with strong resistance from the established medical community in Mississippi. The Mississippi State Medical Association sent a strongly worded letter to legislators, calling acupuncture "quackery," although the state recognizes the benefits of the practice by allowing doctors to perform it on their patients.
In clinical trials, the World Health Organization has proven acupuncture effective in treating all kinds of pain, including back, neck and knee pain, and in reducing or eliminating the adverse effects of chemotherapy. Headaches, migraines, depression and morning sickness all also respond well.
On Jan. 22, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Oriental Medicine Association will be holding "Acupuncture Day at the Capitol" in an effort to educate members about the issue. Anyone interested in assisting the association for any length of time on that day, or who wish to learn more about acupuncture and oriental medicine should go to mississippiacupuncture.org, or call 601-850-0970 or 601-454-2288.
If you have a any time tomorrow to support acupuncture practitioners at the Capitol, please contact the Mississippi Oriental Medicine Association through their Web site or call 601-850-0970 or 601-454-2288.