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New Illinois laws expand scope of practice for acupuncturists

Since the Illinois legislature passed the Acupuncture Practice Act in 2018, licensed acupuncture practitioners have been able to provide a much wider range of treatments commonly used alongside acupuncture.

In addition to an expanded scope that includes cupping, Asian body work, cold laser, etc., practitioners are also able to prescribe herbal remedies for the first time.

Starting Jan. 2020, a new state law will require acupuncturists who want to practice Chinese herbology to take an ACAOM-accredited course and pass an additional board exam. Three board exams are currently required to practice acupuncture without the use of Chinese herbology.

"In practice, Chinese herbology is a tool that can enhance a course of treatment that may also involve acupuncture. It is particularly useful to patients with various internal conditions such as GI tract, respiratory, obstetric and gynecology issues," said George Stretch, DN, DAOM, LAc, DAAPM, DNBAO, interim assistant dean of the NUHS acupuncture and oriental medicine program. "This legislation will help ensure patients are getting herbal remedies from qualified practitioners."

NUHS has been providing ACAOM-accredited courses in Chinese herbology for some time. Students interested in this type of practice study Chinese herbology for two trimesters as part of Master's degree in oriental medicine (MSOM). During that time, students learn how to choose the most effective herbal prescriptions for their patients through both classroom study as well as traditional apprentice-style practice, which includes access to an extensive herbal dispensary.

Students are also able to earn a Master's degree in acupuncture (MSAc) without the additional Chinese herbology coursework. Students earning either degree get rich exposure to not only point location and needling techniques but other oriental healing arts such as tuina, qi gong, moxibustion, cupping and more.

With these modalities now included under Illinois acupuncture licensure, students can prepare for a wider scope of practice that allows more diverse treatment methods.

To learn more about the acupuncture and oriental medicine program, visit the NUHS website.

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