A Brief History of Acupuncture in California

Did you know that until 1975, it was not uncommon for acupuncturists to be arrested and prosecuted for engaging in the practice of acupuncture? True. People went to jail for practicing their medicine when they brought it over her with them. It wasn’t until early 1970′s that the Americans even knew about acupuncture. A trip to China for the Nixon cabinet got the ball rolling to peak american interest.

California’s first Licensed Acupuncturist was Miriam Lee. She was born in China and spent several years in Singapore before settling in California. She had no acupuncture license but eventually found a supportive doctor to move her practice from out of her house. She started of treating an ill relative and another friend of the family. Suddenly people were lining up at her door to be treated. She didn’t advertise. Her practice was built on word mouth. She figured if they showed up, she would treat them. In 1974, she was arrested for practicing medicine, treating up to 80 patients a day. These patients flooded the courtroom with their testimonials of a medical system that had failed them and how this was the only relief they could find for their ailments. 

Within a few days, acupuncture was legally made an experimental procedure by Governor Ronald Reagan. In July of 1975, Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into effect legalizing acupuncture to be practiced with a diagnosis or referral from a doctor, dentist, osteopath, or chiropractor. The scope of practice was expanded and defined in 1977. Electro-acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, oriental massage (tui-na), breathing techniques (meditation), exercise and herbs for nutrition were made authorized procedures. In 1980, the benefits of acupuncture elevated the profession to Primary Healthcare Physician; no longer requiring a referral to treat.

California adopted Colorado’s Workers Comp Regulations in 1988, authorizing acupuncture to be primary physicians in Workers Comp proceedings but preventing them from rating disability. Unlike most other physicians and forms of therapy in the Workers Comp system does not limit acupuncture if progress continues and is documented correctly. It is safe and effective.

Now acupuncture is working into hospital and clinic integration for complementary and holistic care. Your healthcare is best managed with a team that works and talks with each other about you and your plan to recovery. We are willing to be part of that team to help you reach your health and wellness goals.

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