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December 2019 Newsletter

Table of Contents – December 2019

Is Acupuncture in “Crisis?” 

For decades, the international acupuncture research community has conducted studies on both the mechanisms of action of acupuncture as documented in fMRI studies, among other effects, and the clinical effects of acupuncture in osteoarthritis, back and neck pain and other conditions. And yet, the penetration of acupuncture within the practice of medicine continues to be fairly limited. Why might this be? 

Physicians and patients still “try” acupuncture when everything else has failed, or only attempt one or two treatments for chronic conditions, such as headache or other chronic pains, oftentimes unresolved after months to years of medication or physical therapy. 

What might we as physicians be able to do to help in resolving misunderstandings around the practice of acupuncture? Is the science sufficient to support broader adoption of acupuncture as a treatment approach? 

In the Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), a book that is now a classic in the history of science, author Thomas Kuhn describes several stages in scientific explanatory paradigms. The first is what he calls “normal science.” At this stage, the community takes pride in the achievements of that past and enacts developments based on previous understanding. Second, there comes a time when new scientific developments begin to cast doubt on the old model. Evidence begins to accumulate that suggests that the old model is not quite adequate to describe the observed reality. During this phase, the new research may be rejected or ignored for a time. However, as the evidence continues to mount, the new data is openly discussed in conferences and other research circles. This constitutes the transition into the third phase — “crisis phase” — of development. The crisis is resolved when a new model emerges with more explanatory power and a better ability to predict and incorporate the observed findings. The cycle then repeats itself with the new explanatory paradigm. 

Acupuncture research may be at or near this point in the “crisis phase” of development. Many studies point to improvements in physiology and symptom improvements as a result of acupuncture treatment; however, we still struggle to understand the underlying mechanisms of the field, as well as to develop a more overarching theoretical base that fully encompasses the observed phenomena. 

This is an exciting and challenging phase of the scientific discovery process, and one in which it will be essential to enact collaboration among many research groups to develop new and effective models of interpretation. The newly initiated research grant of the Medical Acupuncture Research Fund (MARF) is an important step in this direction. The AAMA, as a bridge between the world of acupuncture and the world of medicine, has a responsibility to be deeply committed to and involved in this process, and to work with other like-minded groups around the world to further this discussion. 

Recent collaboration with the International Council on Medical Acupuncture and Related Techniques (ICMART), the Society for Acupuncture Research (SAR) and other organizations points to important developments in this arena. It is our hope that the coming years will bring ample opportunities to further our common interest of developing the evidence base for the rational practice of acupuncture and related techniques. As the year draws to a close, on behalf of the AAMA Board of Directors, I thank you for your interest and dedication to the field of acupuncture. We wish you all a Happy Holiday and New Year’s Season. 

Brenda Golianu, MD, DABMA
AAMA Board of Directors

Welcome New AAMA Members

Please join us in welcoming the following new members who became part of the Academy in November 2019:

  • Brian C. Bentele, DO, of Colorado Springs, CO
  • Garry W. Lambert, DO, of The Woodlands, TX
  • Julienne K Kurland, MD of Greenwood Village, CO
  • Yousef Zarbalian, MD of Vienna, VA
  • King Soon Goh, MD of Bridgeport, WV

If you have peers or colleagues who aren’t currently members of the AAMA, please encourage them to learn more about the benefits of membership by visiting the website or contacting Sue Sorensen, MD, FAAMA, the membership committee chair.

Physicians Earn ABMA Certification

Congratulations to the following physicians who have completed the process (www.dabma.org/requirements.asp) set by the American Board of Medical Acupuncture (ABMA) to be certified as a Diplomate for 10 years: 

  • Paula Burgess, MD, DABMA, of Austin, TX
  • Richard Elliott, MD, DABMA, of St. Petersburg, FL
  • Chee K. Ho, DO, DABMA, of Laguna Hills, CA
  • Sachiko Kaizuka, MD, DABMA, of Penfield, NY
  • Qing Liu, MD, PhD, DABMA, of Pittsburgh, PA
  • Frederick P. Russek, Jr., DO, DABMA, of Vancouver, WA

Legislative Advocacy Updates – December AAMA 

Legislative Committee Co-chairs, Drs. Donna Pittman and Gavin Elliot, continue to monitor and respond to legislation around the country related to medical acupuncture. Of note this month:

  • Colorado: The committee sent emails to all AAMA members in Colorado alerting them about new legislation (HB 19-1174) designed to end surprise medical bills for out-of-network services. While the intent of this bill was generally toward emergency department services, it affects acupuncture treatments as well. Members were urged to check patients' coverage for acupuncture services, especially at the beginning of the new year. 
  • Florida: The committee sent letters in support of a pair of bills (FL HB 743 / SB 1080) that require prescribing physicians to discuss reasonable alternatives to opioids with their patients.
  • Massachusetts: The committee sent letters in response to two bills in MA. One letter was in support of MA S 1283, which establishes a commission to study the medical benefits of acupuncture and includes a “medical acupuncturist” as part of the reviewing body. The second letter offered expert feedback on legislation (MA H 1880 / SD 1336) that relates to detox specialists and acupuncture. The AAMA strongly opposes the legislation as currently written because it places restrictions on and requires additional training for physician acupuncturists; the committee’s letter shared objections and suggested revisions. AAMA members in Massachusetts have been sent specifics about MA H 1880 / SD 1336 and are encouraged to reach out to their legislators directly. 
  • New Jersey: Once again, the committee sent emails highlighting the AAMA’s Position Statement on Dry Needling to inform proposed legislation (NJ A 392) that would allow physical therapists to perform dry needling. The AAMA reminded NJ legislators that we strongly oppose the practice of acupuncture and dry needling by physical therapists and others who do not have appropriate training. 
  • Wisconsin: The committee sent letters in support of legislation (WI SB 600) that covers acupuncture under the state’s medical assistance program and makes an appropriation. The letters included requested language to specify medical acupuncture and physician acupuncturists alongside “certified acupuncturists” in the legislation. 
  • US Congress: The committee sent letters to legislators and committee chairs with important feedback requesting changes to US HR 1182 and US S 2914, both titled “Acupuncture for Our Heroes Act.” The letters support the intent of the bills to ensure access to acupuncture services at VA facilities, and they summarize the need for changes that include language specific to physician acupuncturists and changes that protect patient safety. 

Legislative tracking and advocacy are ongoing priorities of the AAMA Board of Directors. Please remember: If you become aware of legislative issues/bills being proposed in your state that would affect medical acupuncturists, we encourage you to let us know by email (info@medicalacupuncture.org) or phone (310-379-8261). 

Become a Fellow of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture

Fellowship in the AAMA represents superior commitment to the practice of medical acupuncture. Election of Fellows occurs each Spring during the annual election of AAMA officers and directors. The application deadline this year is March 27, 2020. To be nominated to Fellow of the Academy, members must submit applications documenting the following: 

  • Possess an MD or DO degree or equivalent.
  • Be licensed to practice as an MD, DO or homeopathic physician in the US or Canada.
  • Be Board Certified by the American Board of Medical Acupuncture.
  • Be a current Full member of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture.
  • Have a minimum of five years of Western medicine practice experience or be Board Certified in his or her medical specialty.
  • Have a minimum of four years of clinical experience in medical acupuncture since completing a basic training program in medical acupuncture.
  • Have published or have accepted for publication an acupuncture related article in a recognized medical periodical ... OR ... Have documented ten hours or more of experience teaching medical professionals on acupuncture related topics. 

Serve on the AAMA Board of Directors

The Academy is a member driven organization. Members of the Academy, serving on the Board of Directors or on Committees advising the Board, are making the decisions regarding programs and activities that set the future for the Academy. All members are invited to take part in this volunteer governance process. You can take on a small task that is important but where the time commitment is clearly defined, or you can take on a more significant role by becoming involved as a member of a standing committee or Board where your activities will be more varied and spread over multiple months. In the spring each year, the Academy has an election of Directors and Officers to guide the Academy for the following year. If you are interested in being considered for a seat on the Board of Directors, please reach out and let us know. We welcome your inquiry! Call (310) 379-8261 or email info@medicalacupuncture.org.

Register Now for the AAMA’s Popular Annual Symposium

The 32nd Annual AAMA Symposium will be held April 23-26, 2020, at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. Full details and online registration are now available. Save the date and register now. The early-bird discount expires 2/11/2020! 

Pre-Symposium Workshop Topics and Presenters Announced

The optional Pre-Symposium is intended to provide a concentrated learning experience in which faculty spend an entire day focused on a topic in greater depth and with more time for practical examples from clinical experiences. Workshops are scheduled concurrently on Thursday, April 23, 2020 from 8:00 am-5:30 pm. (Continental breakfast and refreshment breaks are provided. Lunch is on your own.) The AAMA designates this live activity (each Pre-Symposium) for a maximum of 7.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits. 

  • Workshop I – " Existential Crises, Mood Disorders & The 8 Extras" presented by Yvonne Farrell, DAOM, LAc
  • Workshop II – " Principles and Practice of Auricular Acupuncture" presented by Nader Soliman, MD, FAAMA
  • Workshop III – " Balance System Acupuncture: Single Systems Balancing" presented by Sonia Tan, DAOM, RAc, RTCMP
  • Workshop IV – " Constitutional Facial Acupuncture: The New Protocols" presented by Mary Elizabeth Wakefield, LAc, MS, MM

Learn more and register now! 

Call for Entries: Annual Research Paper Competition

Apply now to present a Research Paper at the AAMA 2020 Symposium. The deadline for submission of research papers for the competition is February 14, 2020. If your paper is selected as one of the winners, you will be notified by February 28, 2020. We are pleased to offer: 

  • First Place: $1,500 stipend, Symposium Registration, travel reimbursement up to $500, and three nights hotel lodging for the presenting author. Paper to be presented at the AAMA Symposium in Orlando, April 2020.
  • Second Place: $750 stipend, Symposium Registration, travel reimbursement up to $500.
  • Third Place: $350 stipend and Symposium Registration. 

The first-place winning paper is to be presented in a 30-minute Plenary Session at the Symposium. Papers for second and third place to be announced at the Symposium. Authors will be acknowledged there. Authors will be acknowledged there. Find more information on the AAMA website. 

Call for Entries: Annual Symposium Poster Presentations & Free Paper (Oral) Presentations

The deadline is January 31, 2020, to submit an abstract for the poster session on Saturday evening and/or paper (oral) presentation (cash awards for the winning papers) at the AAMA 2020 Symposium in Orlando, FL. All papers and posters must be submitted in English. Information-sharing between AAMA peers is critical to the life and growth of our industry. Make plans to submit your work! 

Reminder: Book Your Hotel Room for the AAMA Symposium in Orlando

The Academy has negotiated a block of rooms at the specially discounted rate of $199/night (Resort fee included). To reserve a room at that rate, call 800-266-9432 and be sure to mention the AAMA Symposium. Or reserve online. You must make your reservation by March 23, 2020 (or when our block of rooms sells out, whichever comes first) in order to get that discounted rate. Book your hotel room today. We know this meeting will be a popular one for members who might want to extend their time to explore and enjoy Orlando in the spring. Don’t risk losing out on our hotel block! 

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It Last Month

AAMA Website: More Updates to Patient Resources Online
AAMA staff continues to build out sections on the website for patients who are looking for solutions to health issues. Please feel free to suggest other research or articles that should be included on the pages or as new landing pages. 

Medical Acupuncture Research Foundation (MARF) Pilot Grant
AAMA members are encouraged to submit pragmatic clinical trial proposals (not placebo comparisons). One grant (up to $30,000) will be awarded each year. Submission deadline is January 30, 2020. Grant award will be announced at the 2020 Annual Symposium, April 24-26, 2020, in Orlando, FL. Read more on the AAMA website or contact Larissa Bresler, MD, DABMA, for more information. 

Professional Development Opportunities

Medical Acupuncture Review Course
April 21-22, 2020
Orlando, FL

2020 AAMA Annual Symposium
April 23-26, 2020
Orlando, FL

2020 International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health
April 28-May 1, 2020
Cleveland, OH

KIOM-SAR 2020 International Research Conference
September 10-12, 2020
Seoul, South Korea

AAMA Website: Education Listings
The AAMA maintains an ongoing calendar of educational events and professional development opportunities related to medical acupuncture. The calendar is accessible on the AAMA website. Members are encouraged to share events and calendar items from their regions and about educational topics that may be of wider interest among peers and fellow AAMA members. 

Medical Acupuncture Journal Updates

Fast-Track Articles, Ahead of Print: https://www.liebertpub.com/toc/acu/0/0

Most Recent Issue: Special Issue – Acupuncture for Pregnancy, Fertility, Labor & Delivery, and Postpartum: Part II (December 2019) 

New Scientific Research

U.S. Physician Recommendations to Their Patients About the Use of Complementary Health Approaches
[Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine]
“Overall, more than half of office-based physicians recommended at least one CHA to their patients. Female physicians recommended every individual CHA at a higher rate than male physicians except for chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation. These findings may enable consumers, physicians, and medical schools to better understand potential differences in use of CHAs with patients.”

Effect of True and Sham Acupuncture on Radiation-Induced Xerostomia Among Patients With Head and Neck Cancer
[JAMA Netw Open]
“Findings suggest that acupuncture should be considered for the prevention of radiation-induced xerostomia, but further studies are needed to confirm their clinical relevance and generalizability.”

Invited Commentary on Above Article: Acupuncture—A Question of Culture
[JAMA Netw Open]
"One of the significant and exciting findings in the study by Garcia et al3 is the differences between the US and Chinese study sites. Among US patients, only the SA group showed a significantly better xerostomia score compared with the SCC group, while no differences were observed between the TA and SCC groups. In contrast, among Chinese patients, TA significantly improved the xerostomia scores compared with SA and SCC, while the SCC and SA had very similar efficacy. In other words, the Chinese study population clearly showed a hypothesis-confirming result, while the US study population seemed to have been more susceptible to SA." 

Toll-like receptor 2 plays an essential role in electroacupuncture analgesia in a mouse model of inflammatory pain
[Acupuncture in Medicine]
“TLR2 expression in the dorsal root ganglia, spinal cord and thalamus increased following induction of inflammation. … Increased expression of the above molecules was attenuated by both EA and TLR2 antagonism. Our results show that EA attenuates inflammatory pain via TLR2 signalling.”

Scientific Research

Read more evidence-based research on acupuncture and its applications in medical practice.

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