The ancient Oriental art and science of acupuncture, known in the U.S. for a decade, still is practiced here only to a limited extent and does not seem likely to spread. The primary reason, this article hypothesizes, is the stifling effect of acupuncture regulation, which typically prohibits trained nonphysician acupuncturists, mostly Orientals, from performing the therapy. Although all states permit licensed physicians to practice acupuncture with little or no training, few physicians have shown any interest in learning acupuncture and adding it to their practice. The result is that acupuncture services are scarce or unavailable in most states, and the public's newly recognized right to acupuncture treatment is therefore burdened or effectively denied.
Current statutory and medical board regulation of acupuncture is described and evaluated from the standpoint of whether it encourages the practice of acupuncture by persons trained in the therapy. The article finds that both physician-limitation and supervised-practice regulations inhibit or eliminate acupuncture services, while acupuncture licensing laws foster availability of the therapy. The article recommends that states establish autonomous boards of acupuncture to license practitioners, and concludes that a coordinated national effort by acupuncturists and their lay and medical supporters will be necessary to achieve wide-spread adoption of licensing laws.