SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 20 -- California officials joined activists on Sunday to promote Chinese medicine and acupuncture in the United States.
Acupuncturists have healed many in the country in the past decades, several members of the California State Assembly said at an inauguration ceremony of the new board of American Association of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture (AACMA) in Sunnyvale, California.
"I will continue to work with AACMA to increase insurance coverage of acupuncture in California to encourage more people to participate in Chinese medicine and acupuncture," Assembly member Kansen Chu told the gathering, which attracted nearly 100 acupuncturists in Northern California.
"Chinese medicine and acupuncture is one of the essence of Chinese culture. It has been listed in the UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage," said Zhai Deyu, cultural counselor of the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco, at the event.
Acupuncture, which has been practiced in China for thousands of years, is being increasingly embraced by patients and doctors in the United States. There are about 38,000 licensed acupuncturists in the country.
Since California began regulating the practice in 1975, the state has had about 18,000 licensed acupuncturists, and among them one third are of Chinese descent.
"In the past four decades, Chinese acupuncturists have made great contribution to pushing acupuncture into legislation and raising the awareness of the ancient Chinese healing method among American public," said Jun Hu, president of AACMA.
Despite the rapid development in recent years, she also admitted that the scope of the practice is still limited to chronic pain management.
"The real value and benefits of acupuncture have not been brought into full play," said Hu. "There's still a long way ahead to push Chinese medicine and acupuncture into the U.S. medical mainstream."
Hundreds of clinical studies on the benefits of acupuncture show that it improves conditions ranging from back pain to nausea and even depression, insomnia, and infertility, according to the Center for Integrative Medicine at University of California, San Diego.
"There are still three U.S. states where acupuncture has not been regulated. It's an opportunity to expand acupuncture access and push it into the federal health insurance system," said Hu.