Since Americans have a hard time understanding or accepting the Qi or vital energy that Chinese believe flows through a person’s system, acupuncture had to evolve into Western standards thus leading to the creation of modern or medical acupuncture. This is advantageous when trying to combine or use the traditional treatment with modern medicine as medical doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists and osteopaths use the same new terminologies, basis of diagnosis and treatments and systems.
1. Eastern acupuncture uses points and meridians in the body believed to channel Qi or vital energy through systems and organs. Western acupuncture ignores or reinterprets these acupuncture points since there is no scientific or physical basis that can verify the relative connection to diseases or the existence of such.
2. Eastern acupuncture is based on philosophical principles while western acupuncture works using modern biomedical understanding of anatomy, physiology and biochemistry. Concepts of disease in the West are taken from medical data and pathology studies. Concepts of disease in the East still use medical theories from ancient times.
3. The terminologies may also differ since Eastern acupuncture describes using a Taoist metaphor and common language while Western acupuncture describes using modern biomedicine.
4. Traditional acupuncturists see modern acupuncture as a degraded version of the original since it is usually only used in modern therapy in conjunction with mainstream medicine. Sessions using traditional approaches can use more needles and last for 20 to 60 minutes while modern acupuncture may use fewer ones lasting only for 2 to 10 minutes. Traditional practitioners refer to the new methods as “dry needling”.
5. Knowing where to insert the needles is a matter of knowing where the energy flows through the body for Eastern acupuncturists. Western practitioners however, use two principles namely the gate theory of pain and the existence of natural opiates in the body.