Acupuncture is a centuries old practice attributed to Chinese medicine doctors, used to alleviate pain or promote continued good health. The acupuncturist studies “meridians,” which are areas of the body thought to stimulate health. Traditionally, needles were placed into the meridians or acupoints, but acupuncture has evolved into a practice with lasers, magnets and even herbs. Although acupuncturists must be licensed by their state’s medical board with a “Licensed Acupuncturist” certification, you can still begin your study of the field from home, gathering information about Oriental medicine and studying the basics before setting out to earn your certification.
Join an industry organization such as the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. From your computer, you’ll have access to resources like the group’s online library, which has information on the history of acupuncture, a directory of state acupuncture websites, legislative updates on the field and a member directory. Search the member directory for chapters, offices or professionals in your area, and contact someone to ask about possibly serving as a mentor or tutor.
Purchase an introductory text such as “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Acupuncture and Acupressure” by David Sollars, “Acupuncture” by Shi Cun Wu or “Acupressure & Reflexology for Dummies” by Bobbi Dempsey and Synthia Andrews.
Enroll in an online course or program in acupuncture such as the one offered by the Blue Heron Academy of Healing Arts and Sciences. The programs let you learn at your own page and use CD-ROMs and the Internet to discuss topics, such as philosophy of acupuncture, acupuncture as a neurophysiological science, patient instruction, acupuncture trigger point theory, new treatment concepts and basic terminology. Some programs, such as Blue Heron's, result in a Practical Acupuncture Certificate of Completion.
Watch a CD-ROM or DVD about acupuncture practices, such as HopTechno’s Complete Acupuncture CD-ROM, covering the basic principles of acupuncture treatment, needles and preparation, classification of acupuncture points, acupuncture point measurement and location and the different research studies that have been conducted about the practice.
Gently practice pressing your fingertips on the acupoints or meridians on your body. For example, according to the Los Angeles Chinese Learning Center, if you press the lung meridian which is above the wrist on the inside of your arm, it may ease upper body disorders such as sore throat, cough, asthma or headache. Experiment on your own body and observe any results.
Acupuncturists are trained, educated, licensed professionals. Although you can learn the history and basics of acupuncture at home, you'll need to get certification before you can practice the field. Never use needles on yourself or another person without completing your certification. If you experiment with pressing the acupoints on yourself and notice any intestinal or bodily distress, stop immediately.